Yes, Virginia, there will be a Mummer's parade on New Year's Day after all.
The Mummers agreed at a meeting last night to strut and strum their way up Broad Street from South Philly to City Hall in just 6 1/2 hours, compared with the usual eight- or nine-hour marathon.
The 11th-hour agreement followed weeks of contentious talks between the city and the Mummers.
But real sighs of relief were uttered when U.S. Rep. Bob Brady unexpectedly showed up at the meeting, held at the Mummers Museum at 2nd Street and Washington Avenue, and vowed to solve the Mummers' lingering financial problems.
The String Bands, Fancies and Comics were supposed to be on the hook for $47,000 to help cover the cost of city services provided during the parade, Mummers' attorney George Badey said.
But Brady swore he would raise $50,000 for the Mummers or contribute the funds himself if his fundraising efforts weren't successful, Badey said.
"He got a huge round of applause for that," said Badey, who earlier in the day unveiled a Web site,www.savethemummers. com, to help the organization pay its portion of the parade costs.
Due to budget constraints, the city reduced the amount it was prepared to contribute for police, fire, sanitation and public-property services to $300,000, said mayoral spokesman Doug Oliver.
Earlier yesterday, Nutter said the city "put forward what we think is a reasonable offer."
The Mummers had until today to let Nutter know if they would accept the city's money and proceed with the parade.
Last month, Nutter cut $355,000 in parade prize money when he revised the city budget to help eliminate a $1 billion shortfall over the next five years. He said the Mummers were going to have to cover all of the city service costs as well - a number initially estimated to be as high as $760,000 for an eight- or nine-hour parade.
That figure sent plenty of finely sequined feathers flyin'.
During ensuing meetings, Mummers officials tried to convince Nutter that the 107-year-old parade was an economic asset that would collapse without city funding.
Badey said the Mummers commissioned an economic-impact study of the parade, conducted by the Center for Forensic Economic Studies.
The study concluded that the parade generated $9 million in revenue for the city, including $500,000 in net income for businesses and $994,000 in parade-related tourism spending, Badey said.
"The Mummers parade is just like the Phillies [World Series] parade," Badey said.
"Both bring in more money than it costs the city to hold the actual parade, but the Mummers were not supported like the Phillies."
Oliver said it's unlikely the city will contribute any money to cover expenses for a 2010 New Year's Day parade. "We won't be able to keep this going without community support," Badey said. *