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.

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