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Mummers eye return to South Philly route — and roots

A petition seeking the parade's original route is gaining support online.

A Mummer walks on New Year's Day 2014.

Charles Mostoller

"It's where it belongs."

"So my kids can enjoy the traditions I grew up with."

"It's a parade for the people and not just a Center City money maker."

These are among the thousands of reasons offered by those who signed a petition looking to bring the Mummers Parade to its original South Philly route.

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To Richard Mariani, who created the Change.org petition last week, the parade lacks connection to its community.

"The parade is always been on Broad Street. It started at Broad and Oregon and marched to City Hall," Mariani said. "What you see today is basically a 10-block parade that goes from Market Street around City Hall and ends on Washington Avenue."

In 2014, Mummers flipped their route, starting the festivities on Market Street, marching to City Hall for judging and continuing down Broad Street to Washington Avenue.

"It ignores 90 percent of the very people who have supported it for over a century," the South Philly native added.

Mariani's not alone in his thinking. His petition has more than 1,200 supporters with a goal of 1,500.

Finnegan New Year’s Brigade member Mike Inemersigned the petition, and later told Metro that although the parade originated in South Philly, it now involves people from all over Philadelphia, and many from South Jersey and Delaware.

"To all these folks, Philadelphia City Hall is still the icon of our town and it is nice, at least for one day, to reclaim the city that has been taken from us,"Inemer said in an email.

"This is a nicer [and] more pleasant way of putting it: 'To reclaim the spirit of the parade they have been taking from us,'" he elaborated.

On that "spirit," Mariani put it a different way: "The city puts pressure to make it smaller, faster, more … internationally palatable."

Mariani said that "pressure" — like undergoing sensitivity training after their 2016 show, and moving its route — is disconnecting the parade from its roots.

He said the city and Mummers moved the parade two years ago in an attempt to market the international attraction to tourists — and to save a few bucks.

"It hasn’t done anything for the city as far as tourism is concerned, because those people were coming here anyway," Mariani said.

But this new route is keeping longtime supporters away from the city.

"Families would come from all over, from Jersey, from New York, they would come visit their relatives down in Philly," he said. "A lot of people that used to come into town to watch the parade don't come into town anymore."

"It's never gonna happen," Bill Duncan said.

Duncan heads the Northeast Philly Polish American String Band. He said Mayor Jim Kenney isn't for the Mummers, and won't change the route because its current path is shorter and costs less.

"The city don't want to go back to starting in South Philly," Duncan said. "Mr. Kenney wants the parade to be 1-2-3, but it's not the same."

Despite his South Philly roots — and the fact that the route change was made under former Mayor Michael Nutter — Kenney doesn't get much love from Mummers.

The 35-year-Mummer-turned-mayor doesn't give much, either.

After this year's performance, Kenney called a display mocking Caitlin Jenner's transition "hurtful."

He said later that if the Mummers continue to be insensitive, "the long-term existence of the parade is in jeopardy."

But supporters of the petition are less concerned with the insensitivity of their parasol-toting revelers. It's a tale of two cities.

"South Philly and center city are two seperate world's [sic]," one signer wrote.

Another said: "The city should be ashamed of itself for what it has done!!! You can tax sugar to line your pockets but, can't show any love to the great men and women that make this wonderful day possible."

"You can go on Second Street and there's more people down there than on Broad Street," Mariani said.

"It's a community parade and the city wants to keep moving it away from the people that support it."

 
 
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