The Show Must Go On

The parade is going to be settled: Organizers

A contract dispute between the City of Philadelphia and reps for the Mummers Parade as well as the threat of bad weather could keep the Comics, Fancies and String Bands from strutting up Broad Street.

But those setbacks didn't stop organizers from prepping for Philadelphia's New Year's Day tradition Monday night.

Dozens of participants worked on costumes, dance routines and music in preparation of Friday's parade.

"There are a couple of issues out there but it's going to be settled. We all want a parade, both sides want a parade," said Jim Julia with the Downtown Fancy Brigade.

A mixture of snow and rain on New Year's Day could threaten the outdoor portion of the parade. However, the indoor portion of the parade at the Convention Center is still expected to go on, according to officials.

The Mummers have been negotiating a long-term contract with the city over parade costs and commitments.

But just four days before the parade's 110th anniversary, a deal has yet to be reached.

An attorney for the Mummers says that they've agreed to put forth $140,000 toward the yearly event, but that the city has failed to agree on two points: providing an itemized bill of costs and producing copies of contracts signed by other parades and festivals.

Parade reps say they want to ensure they know where their money is going and has given officials until May 2010 to provide the data.

"Our concern is that we want there to be transparency and openness in the government," Mummers attorney George Badey said.

But so far, the city has refused to provide the requested details, according to the Mummers. The absence of a signed contract has some worried that the city will pull the plug at the last minute.

Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Everett Gillison says the parade will "absolutely" happen. He says both parties are working to ensure that a contract will be signed in the "next day or so."

City officials have already dropped commitment expectations for the century's old parade from $300,000 annually to less than half that. Last year, Philadelphia's budget crisis threatened to shutter the parade all together, but it was saved after U.S. Rep. Bob Brady secured funding.

Whether the parade officially happens or not, some Mummers say they'll still strut the parade route -- a move which could be problematic for all parties involved, especially if liquor is involved.

Still, the biggest threat to the 2010 parade is Mother Nature. If the weather causes a postponement, the parade would move from Friday to the weekend. That decision could be made as late as Friday morning.

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