In memory of Tom Brookshier

Congratulations to Barbara Brookshier and Dick Vermeil as they highlighted the 23rd Annual Devereux Pennsylvania Golf Classic at Philadelphia Cricket Club in Flourtown.  (Devereux is a leading behavioral health care provider.)  I served as Master of Ceremonies for the awards program and live auction and my deep thanks goes to the Devereux staff, board of directors, volunteers, and of course, the golfers, who made the afternoon and evening a success.

The ceremony honored three young men, including Tyrone, seen in the photo below, who have shown great improvement and personal responsibility, working with Devereux, in taking hold of their lives. 

Devereux launched the new Tom Brookshier Heart of a Champion Award, named after the late Eagle great.  His wife, Barbara, was fantastic in helping announce the new honor.   Coach Vermeil got the audience in a giving mood.   As Tom,  a longtime supporter of Devereux and a member of the Advisory Board, liked to say, “It’s about the kids.”

More on South Philly Vikings

The last few days have been fun hearing all the positive reaction about the South Philly Vikings’ appearance on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.”   The Fancy Brigade is understandably not allowed to talk about the experience yet because it is ongoing and the events of the show are secret until aired.  But, some others can comment.

Jim Julia, head of the Fancy Brigade Division tells me, “We always believe the Mummers do indeed have talent!  Now America will get a chance to see the Mummers and realize there really is only one place to be on New Year’s Day and that, of course,  is in Philly!  The fact that it is a Fancy Brigade certainly adds to the level of pride.  I may have to change my saying that the Brigades were Philly’s best kept secret.”

The one and only Rocco Gallelli adds, “The South Philly Vikings are showing America the quality of entertainment that Philadelphians experience in the Pennsylvania Convention Center on January 1st each year during the Fancy Brigade Finale.  I wish them luck as they move on to Vegas.” 

Hey, if the Vikes keep going, they may need help getting to and from the competition and staying there.  Any help would be appreciated.

Viva Los Vikings!

They’re wowing Vegas, baby!  Mummers rocked “America’s Got Talent” last night.  Members of the South Philly Vikings, led by outstanding and upbeat Captain Pete D’Amato, performed on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent”  and blew the judges away, “Apocalypse”-style.  The First Prize winning Fancy Brigade in the 2010 Mummers Parade, of course performed at the Pennsylvania Convention Center on New Year’s Day, but a smaller group of the mighty Brigade then entered the “America’s Got Talent” competition.  They auditioned in New York and the brief performance aired last night on NBC.  The judges were impressed and (out of awe…and no doubt a little fear) passed them on to Las Vegas.  Family members and friends of the Vikings are excited about their Brigade’s success and wish them good luck the rest of the way and so do I.  Viva Los Vikings!

Laying the Foundation/Saving the Future

A big Mummers Strut forward today for the Mummers and several  other Philadelphia organizations.  At a news conference at the Mummers Museum, U.S. Representative Bob Brady and the Greater Philadelphia Traditions Fund, Inc., announced that money has been found and the Fund established to make sure that the community parades and festivals of at least 10 well-known groups will go on.

To be clear, there is some disagreement in the city over what the final mandatory costs will be from the City of Philadelphia for each parade or festival, but the significance of today’s announcement is that a secure, nonprofit foundation of dollars dedicated to preserving the freedom of expression of tradition, ethnic, heritage and community pride has been established. Ideally, this will also free up the organizations to raise money for the content of their own events and other organizational needs.

Congressman Brady reports that philanthropist Gerry Lenfest has agreed to contribute $500,000 over 5 years and that other donations are in the works to guarantee that $7,500 is available per organization per parade to pay the city. Adds Brady, “We can guarantee that these events will go on for the next 5 years.” Brady says the new Greater Philadelphia Traditions Fund expects more donors and he’s confident there’ll soon be enough money in the fund to guarantee the next 10 years.

Greg Montanaro, President of Greater Philadelphia Traditions, Inc., called today a celebration and that today’s announcement will hopefully secure these parades and festivals for the foreseeable future. Joining Brady and Montanaro were representatives from the Mummers, the Odunde Festival, the Columbus Day Parade, The Von Steuben Day Parade, the Puerto Rican Day Parade, the Greek Independence Day Parade, the Gay Pride Parade, the Pulaski Day Parade, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the Chinatown Mid-Autumn Festival.

Al Taubenberger, President of the Greater Northeast Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and Chair of the Von Steuben Day Parade Committee, says today’s revelation is very positive and that, “What Congressman Brady has done is really a great relief to all the ethnic parades.” George Badey, Chairman of Save the Mummers, commented, “Congressman Brady has been a Godsend for the Mummers and the other organizations.”

 A passionate Bob Brady says, “You start losing your traditions and you start losing your identity…This is Philadelphia. We start losing this and we lose Philadelphia.” The Congressman adds that he’ll keep negotiating with the city and that if there are further costs above the $7,500 figure they are working with, he’s confident they can be handled as long as he, the organizations and the city keep working together. Brady said of Mayor Michael Nutter, “The mayor has been completely cooperative,” and that Mayor Nutter has said the city will not stop parades.