People Are Angry at the 2016 Mummers Parade

Racist, transphobic Mummers performances continue to embarrass Philadelphia. The city deserves better.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: The Mummers Parade was really offensive this year.

Well, okay, don’t stop me. But here’s the deal: This year, the Mummers Parade was supposed to embrace diversity. Here’s a French TV station writing about it! Before the parade, the Daily NewsStu Bykofsky mocked the idea that the Mummers need to be more diverse. So here is what happened this year.

Some wench brigades carried signs that said “Wench Lives Matter.” Maybe that’s more “we’re making a reference to a current event!” than openly offensive. Maybe. (There were the same signs last year.) But then this: The Sammar Strutters did a Mexican theme where they wore brownface and danced dressed as Mexican stereotypes.

It continued. Finnegan New Year’s Brigade did a whole skit based on Caitlyn Jenner‘s transition from Bruce. The bit was a guy dressed as Bruce disappearing into the crowd of 100 or so Mummers and coming out dressed as Caitlyn. (He did not even do a costume change; they used two people.) There were a lot of people in Finnegan, and not one person said, “Hey, maybe we shouldn’t do this.” Or, if people did, they were ignored.

There were lots of Caitlyn Jenner jokes at the Mummers yesterday. Whoever runs Finnegan’s Twitter account went back and forth with people all night defending their skit until asking people to “Be a man literally and contact our email.” I did! I didn’t get a reply. I also tried to contact the Sammar Strutters with no luck. I did talk with a spokesman from SugarHouse Casino, the parade’s lead sponsor. No one from the casino was available to comment, because they were at the parade.

SugarHouse Casino has been a parade sponsor for five years now, so it’s clear they are OK with the Mummers’ brand of humor (“humor”). And I like the Mummers, too! For most of my life I’ve been using the line, “I am glad the Mummers exist so I can mock them.” But even that’s a bit too harsh, kind of: It is awesome that Philadelphia’s New Years parade is done by amateurs. It is awesome that some (many?) of them are drunk. It is a really fun day. Chilling on Broad Street on New Year’s Day with a giant magnum of champagne is one of my favorite things every year. The crowd is friendly, the open-container laws are ignored, and I’ve always had a great time.

But. There are many people who are angry at the Mummers, and it’s for good reason. You shouldn’t wear brownface. You shouldn’t do jokes making fun of Caitlyn Jenner for reasons relating to her transition. (I, and many people, happen to find her annoying — she’s the least likable character on the Kardashians show, which is an impressive feat. Also she killed someone in a car crash. There are lots of valid reasons to dislike her!) The Mummers consistently cross the line, and in a way they embarrass Philadelphia. You don’t have to care about the public urination or the general drunkenness from some of the Mummers. That is Philadelphia! But you should care when they use stereotypes to mock people — Mexicans, the transgender community — who haven’t generally been included in the parade. It makes them seem hateful.

People will defend this, too. “Oh, it’s only the comics! Don’t paint all the Mummers with a broad brush — you’re so hypocritical.” That’s bullshit. Anyone who marches in the parade — and PHL 17, who also didn’t return my call yesterday — is in a sense endorsing this kind of garbage. Channel 17 showed the Jenner skit and the Mexican skit without a peep that it might be wrong. They are complicit, too, every year. To broadcast this and not call it out is endorsing it. Steve Highsmith‘s sweater is not the only thing he should be embarrassed about. People like Bykofsky, who defend the parade and mainly complain about gaps between performances, ought to be embarrassed, too.

Nellie Fitzpatrick, the city’s director of LGBT affairs, commented on her Facebook page on the parade. “I am disgusted to be hearing reports of transphobic, disgusting performance(s) during the Mummers Parade,” she wrote. “In this case, the Finnegan brigade’s social commentary, went too far. It’s hurtful to the trans community and not representative of the city or the Mummers as whole. This bias, ignorant behavior endangers and belittles the lives of many people and has no place in our streets, celebrations or city!” Mayor-elect Jim Kenney had similar thoughts.

What’s sad is: We can do better. I have lived in Philadelphia my whole life, so I guess I’m biased but whatever: Philadelphia is the best city on the planet. I love almost everything about this town. And there is so much about the Mummers that is actually great! Yet every year I’m embarrassed. Which is fine, the city should not revolve around my embarrassment. But a lot of people are embarrassed. A lot of people know this is wrong. A whole group of people trained for an entire year and what they came up with was a shitty Photoshop about Caitlyn Jenner. Calling Jenner a Froot Loop in your Mummers skit is wrong. Wearing brownface is wrong. I know a lot of people feel this is some sort of affront to their freedom, but they’re wrong, too. Deal with it.

Sorry to break this to Finnegan, but you can’t do a skit calling Caitlyn Jenner a “tranny” and then say “but we love all LGBT people!” You’ve already shown you don’t. A member of Finnegan was caught saying “fuck the gays” on video (that man has reportedly been punished by his brigade). Another man says he was punched and called a faggot by Mummers. In the Gayborhood.

If we’re going to let a group march down Broad Street, leaving a sea of litter and beer cans in their wake, the least they can do is not openly offend minority groups that aren’t often included in the parade. I mean, come on.

Follow @dhm on Twitter.

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  • CH

    Wife-beating wearing greasy Dagos did what?

    • C

      Because that’s the way to make a point! Let’s combat ignorance and hate with more ignorance and hate! You’re now 100% part of the problem.

  • https://twitter.com/richcolton RichC, gaseonthecase

    Dan tried to do a year end “Things that offended me in 2015” column, but the internet ran out of space.

  • Could care less

    Freedom of speech if Bruce can’t handle it to bad. Offensive language is protected. Get some thinker sink. Hell even the attorney general sister is doing it. And what happened to her nothing. They are just using all of you

    • Kathy11

      You obviously do care.
      Freedom of speech doesn’t just apply to the mummers- it covers those criticizing what they choose to say.

      Dan’s spot on here – if you want to make fun of Ms. Jenner there’s plenty of material that’s fair game out there. They don’t have to make the “joke” that trans, Latino and gay people exist.

      It also wouldn’t have hurt if Finnegans taught their folks how to dance. Lame presentation.

      • HavocNHell

        Actually.. Freedom of Speech is to protect the People of the United States from censorship or suppression by the Government. From one person to another telling that person to be quiet, is not infringing on a persons first amendment rights, lest that person is a member of the government. Then it is illegal and violates the 1st.

    • Nic

      Freedom of Speech doesn’t apply here.

  • Johnny Domino

    Mummers are offensive = Snowballs at Santa for a quick and lazy click-bait piece, which is what so much media has been reduced to.

    • Kathy11

      That would make sense if folks were actually throwing snowballs at Santa every year. It happened once- like fifty years ago.

      • Johnny Domino

        But they are or worse, and no one is advocating closing the Linc.

        • Kathy11

          Fine.
          Close the Linc!

          No skin off my nose.

          • Johnny Domino

            I’ll see your cry in the wilderness and raise you an inane babble.

          • Kathy11

            I’ll call and see your hole card.

          • Johnny Domino

            If “close the Linc” is all you’ve got, I think you’ve already folded.

          • Kathy11

            It was at the level of your objection.

      • Yes

        And if it was really Santa, we wouldn’t have done it.

        • Kathy11

          It depends on what you got in your stocking last year…….

  • Fred Sawyer

    How about this? If you’re offended by the parade don’t attend it.

    If they were making fun of Donald Trump or anyone else of Caucasian descent would there be this much outrage?

    BLM members arrested. Shocking

    • Tonylee

      You are pathetic a pathetic excuse for an Archie Bunker stereotype!!!
      Your kind doesn’t belong anymore. Please go take a long walk on a short pier.
      You are so sad.

      • Fred Sawyer

        Truth hurts doesn’t, it ?

        You are either an ex con and / or criminal sympathizer.

        I detest ALL criminals.

        • Bob

          I figured your mentality to be around 3rd grade Now the Trump endorsement confirms it

          • M Berger

            Bob and Tonylee: What part of the !st Amendment don’t you understand? Facist Gov’ts “filter” their ideas.
            Are you Facists
            Try to remember “one person in the right is a MAJORITY”
            Tonylee, really love name calling as an intelligent reaction to the First Admendmet

          • Cold Ropes

            Do you just pretend to not understand the first amendment or do you actually not understand it? I’m not sure which is worse.

          • M Berger

            Hello Coldropes We hold these truths to be SELF EVIDENT
            that as much as I may disagree with your opinion, you have the SAME RIGHT to Hold and Voice Your Opinion
            The difference is I try to go one step further and get the Facts since I believe that ” Without the DATA you are just someone with an OPINION

          • Fred Sawyer

            Typical leftist criminal. So how was your recent prison stay?
            No worries, you’ll foul up again and either be back in prison or if you somehow stay out my taxes will support you.

            A third grade mentality because I detest criminals? You’re another perp who can’t handle the truth.

            Like Triple H said during the WWF attitude era- I’m that D^£m good!

            It’s also time a great woman occupy the White House.

            Trump could choose Pamela Geller and / or Ann Coulter for his Cabinet.

            Maybe even a running mate.

          • Bob

            Coulter now I know your just a troll. Bye

          • Fred Sawyer

            What’s the matter do great women like her intimidate you?

          • judethom

            Coulter is smarter than you, Bob.

    • hathair

      How about if you’re going to engage in this type of behavior, don’t close down Broad street for an entire day and don’t ask the taxpayers to pay for all the overtime that cops and city employees get for this stupid parade.

      • Fred Sawyer

        I’ve said the same thing about ALL parades in cities. They should be privately funded and should not cost tax payers a penny.

        • HavocNHell

          Mummers Parade is not taxpayer funded. You be surprised at the constant beef and beer, bake sales, raffles and over all donation. Not to mention the money they actually take out of their pocket.

          Now, you may or may not be from Philadelphia. I, however was born and Raised in South Philly near 2 Street. So I speak from first hand 100% knowledge.

          • Fred Sawyer

            I would not know 1 way ot the other as I do not live in Philly, that being said, it’s good the event is not tax payer funded.

          • Velvet Hathaway

            In 2011, a Mummer headquarters was raided by police. They found a slew of hookers, many of whom where openly engaging in their profession. Is that where the bake sale money went?

          • hathair

            Einstein, no one thinks the Mummers work for the city.but do you think all the cops who closed off the streets and were stationed on every corner during the parade worked for free? and the people who cleaned up the tons of garbage in the street after the parade was over?

    • Peggy Pritchard


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    • Velvet Hathaway

      Yeah, black people. Lighten up. So what if you’ve been oppressed for 200+ years and the cops are unlawfully killing dozens of you in the streets. Some drunk tool who used to take out a second mortgage to sit in the 700 level at the Vet wants to mock you.

      • mike t

        Hey Velvet, why don’t you tell all of us how many black people were killed by cops last year in Philly. Then tell us how many black people were killed by other blacks. Wanna make a bet as to which one is higher?

        • Fred Sawyer

          Awesome comment!

          • T

            Being killed by police officers, aka those set in place to protect you, and being killed by people of the same race are in no way related….?

          • Fred Sawyer

            I’ve never been concerned about being killed by police officers. Maybe it’s due to my lacking a criminal record and I don’t possess weapons nor contraband?

            Jackpot! I follow all instructions if stopped by police

      • Fred Sawyer

        If this country is SO awful then one should choose a more tolerant country such as Iran or Syria. I’ll gladly provide transportation to the airport.

        I am also a descendent of TWO World War II veterans. If it weren’t for the ENTIRE Greatest Generation we all would be speaking German, Japanese, or Italian.

        To all the criminals who use that stupid racism excuse- do everyone a favor and leave. It’s really old.

        FYI my ancestors came from Ireland- they were s&£t on as much as anyone.

        “IRISH need not apply” was a common sign in early 20th century America.

        I just know the loser who put up those signs have one thing in common- they are dead.

      • Bill

        Yawn, give the excuses up lady!

      • judethom

        It was brown face not black face. Get it right.

    • judethom

      I agree, the Jenner thing was a major hoot. Shame on Nellie Fitzpatrick.

  • 4dsquared

    It seems as if the Mummers Parade has become 2 separate parades in one. You have the comics and the drunkards whose attempts at humor are often offensive and generally fall flat on content. Then you have the string bands and the fancy brigades who take pride in their performance and musicianship. I think the Mummers organization, as a whole, has to decide which one of these groups is representative of the Mummers. When one side mars the reputation of the entire parade, it’s bad for them, bad for the city and bad for the patrons (who are mostly families with children in attendance. Perhaps it’s time to take out the trash.

    • HavocNHell

      You don’t know the Mummers do you? They are drunk from the Start.

      • 4dsquared

        I described them accurately.

    • Bill

      Wenches lives matter!

  • mike t

    Awww, poor Dan got his panties in a bunch over a couple of skits. Such a sensitive little flower.

  • >>> Puddin’ Pie <<<

    The whiney few are going to start kicking their feet… this is the first I’ve heard of the parade… and I thought the Jenner thing was hysterically funny!!

    • Bethanne

      Says a whole lot more about you than the skit.

  • annieem

    Good and balanced article, Dan. I, too, am a life long mummer’s lover however I agree that brown face like black face is wrong. I agree that the Caitlyn Jenner skit crossed the line of good taste with the Fruit Loops box being the nail in the coffin. And, I think the parodies of Black Lives Matter are insensitive and disrespectful since it is a movement centered on the unnecessary deaths of so many young, black men. There needs to be an oversight committee that reviews all potential skits, ideas, etc. in advance. I am a free speech advocate and not a “PC” fanatic but this parade is a public affair representing the city of Philadelphia to the entire country. The ignorance of a minority (usually the comics) should not be allowed to besmirch the great work and awesome talent of the string band and the fancy brigades.

    • pjcostello

      “Oversight committee”? And you think you’re a ‘free speech’ advocate? What a joke.

      • annieem

        A spokesperson for the mummers was just on Channel 10 news apologizing for the Mexican brown face act and the Kaitlyn Jenner act saying next year clubs wanting to do an ethnic act would have advisors including someone from that ethic group. Free speech, even according to the First Amendment – is not absolute.

    • judethom

      I disagree. What a horrible idea. Blatant censorship. That would make the comics very boring and yawn-inducing.

  • Mobilescout

    People need to lighten up and stop looking for reasons to be “offended”. Come on It was Hilarious. Uh oh… Mistakenly capitalized that. Might tick off the Hillary 2016 gang. I better apologize now.
    Funny I haven’t heard anyone complain about the signs of Pope Francis face on a football player. Or the nuns on the toilet. Some people find that equally offensive. Nobody would DARE do that if it was Mohammad, or any Muslim cleric.
    Relax people. It’s all just for fun.

  • Brayden Slattery

    One thing that we can agree on (hopefully):

    PHL17 must do something about Steve Highsmith

    That guy has the personality of a thumb tack.

    He is dull, stale, and needs to be put out to pasture.

    Next time the station covers grass-cutting or paint-drying, he’s the guy

    Until that happens, the telecast will to be atrocious.

    • Rod Kapriski

      Agree with you 100%

      That guy is a walking corpse

      • judethom

        Horrible man.

    • judethom

      Time for Highsmith to retire. He’s been around for 1,000 years and he has always been a lackluster woodpecker. Why and how does he keep going on?

  • Resident

    It’s time to end this annual spectacle of drunken losers and morons. It’s a joke that is an embarrassing relic of the past, catering to the lowest common denominator. Philadelphia will never be a world class city with low class garbage like this.

    • mike t

      You are absolutely correct. It’s not the the 2000 shootings a year, the lousy public schools, or the government corruption that will hold Philadelphia back from being a world class city. It’s a goofy skit about that degenerate Bruce Jenner that’s the problem.

      • Resident

        This article is about the loser Mummers, and I focused my comments those bafoons alone.

        • mike t

          “Philadelphia will never be a world class city with low class garbage like this.”

          Your comments show that you are a moron.

        • Bill

          So all mummers are losers now because of 1% or less on New Years Day! So you are basically stereotyping a whole group because of a few people isn’t that the same thing the few people in the mummers did to the transgender community. 99% of mummers are hard working Philadelphia tax payers. I know for a fact most businesses like pizza places, grocery stores, bakeries as well as community organizations would not survive down around 2nd street without the mummers because there clubs donate money, time, & themselves to ensure their neighborhoods thrive! Are there some racist bigots absolutely as there are in every group there is. There are about 10,000 mummers so you will find a few idiots but don’t paint the whole group with the same brush as any other, race gender, organization etc would not want this done to them!

      • judethom

        Blame the silly and hypersensitive trans community. They are politically correct to a T.

    • judethom

      Oh please. What would you have people do, sit in your dour living room and drink tea and discuss political campaigns? A world class city contains multitudes…it is not parochial minded (like you).

  • katie odonenll

    for god sakes comedians on every channel under the sun made fun of jenner, what is the problem here

    • judethom

      Small town political correctness. Just ignore these so called spokespersons.

      • Shelleylsmith


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  • ISeeWhatYouDidThere

    I’ve read several comments defending “offensive” language and decrying sensitivity.
    I understand that social change looks terrifying, especially when you’re used to benefiting from a certain order. And nobody really likes to have their traditions altered, or be told how to celebrate.
    But do you really want to live in a city, in a country, in which the freedom to say and do stupid/reprehensible/unconscionable things in public means more than being a decent human being?
    If your answer is yes, then I don’t know that you’re fit for democratic life.
    Better luck next year, Mummers!

  • hathair

    I would like to know how much this parade costs the city and how much of that is paid by Sugarhouse. I tried to find that information online but apparently the amount of Sugarhouse’s contribution is top secret. If the racists and homophobes want to have a get-together and put on their little hate-filled skits, why not have it at Sugarhouse? I’m all for free expression but if your forum is subsidized by taxpayers you are going to have a problem if people don’t like your message, it’s hard defend the taxpayer subsidy. And when the taxpayer subsidy is paying for a function aimed at the uneducated working class heterosexual Donald Trump white people in a city where nonwhites, affluent people and gays are becoming more prevalent, something has to give.

    • Fatty Bratwurst

      You sound gay.

      • judethom

        Oh please the whole world is gay. Your son is gay. And your father once had a gay experience. Who cares.

    • HavocNHell

      City does not pay anything. The Parade is actually sponsored by Sugarhouse Casino.

      95% of Money comes from..Beef and Beer, Raffles, Bake Sales and local companies

      As many of the Mummers are Union Workers in Carpentry, Electrician, UAW, Plumbers, Welders. Most of the Sets are designed in house and time is donated.

      Sugar House pays for advertisement along with other.

      There is a short, brief description of how the Mummers are funded. I am not a Mummer by any stretch of the imagination.

      I was born and raised in South Philadelphia and have had the Mummers in my life since I was born. I was around before the Mummers Museum was built.

      So, does that answer any of your questions?

      • hathair

        HavocNHell, you answered my question by confirming that mummers are not terribly astute.

  • Dave Blitnikoff

    For the Jenner skit they shoulda played the Klaus Nomi song !

  • KT
  • Mobilescout

    Funny how my post was censored by the very media who depends on the first amendment. Wonder if this one will make it through.

  • 13 Hours

    Making fun of the mentally ill is childish and in poor taste, but it shouldn’t be regulated by the government.

    • Bob Blaylock

        Some things need to be mocked, as a defense against those who would allow them to be taken seriously.

        A mentally-ill man, who thinks he’s a woman, and a society that is infested with people who will play along with such a delusion, is a perfect example of a situation where mockery is necessary and appropriate.

        Bruce Jenner chose to make a sick freak of himself, and to make a big public spectacle of it.  Let him reap the consequences of this choice.

  • michael894

    It’s the same old progressive agenda. You can have Free Speech as long as we agree with you. If we don’t like what you say, we will shout you down and call you a Racist!

  • Matt

    Here’s the thing you need to understand about Philly, if you are not actively listening to Bruce Springsteen and a bunch of 80’s butt-rock, if you are not rascist or homophobic, and if you don’t simply hate everyone else in society, you do not belong in Philly.

    • mike t

      If you aren’t shooting at someone, on parole or not collecting a welfare check you do not belong in Philly.

    • nameless troll

      What ever you do,please don’t assume we all like Springsteen.

  • Kingsley Comane

    Good article, that is balanced and fair.

    Nice to see McQuade reporting on key Philadelphia issues

    He is clearly more qualified and better versed on the local scene than that fraud Mathis.

  • Herman

    The mummer’s blow! From the stringbands down to the ‘brigades’, squash this embarrassment to the city once and for all!

    • Bill

      Ok Hermey, dork!

      • Herman

        that’s why no one wants you south of Washington Ave terd! Ahahahaha

  • Bob Blaylock

      How sick has our society become?

      A perverted man who was once a famous athlete declares himself a woman, and we cannot even make fun of him, we cannot even openly tell the plain and obvious truth about him, because that would be “transphobic”.

    • mike t

      He/She/It is a disgusting degenerate. End of story.

    • judethom

      Of course you can make fun of him. Ignore Nellie Fitzpatrick. She is part of the politically correct army corps of engineers.

  • Ned Gerblansky

    “You shouldn’t do jokes making fun of Caitlyn Jenner for reasons relating to her transition.”

    Her? Transition? He still has a twig and berries, correct?

  • Velvet Hathaway

    “Stop me if you’ve heard this before…”

    So this racist trash is allowed to happen on the taxpayers dime year in and year out? Enough already. Ban this garbage.

  • BJC

    What’s the big deal? It’s not like they raped Juanita Broadrick.

  • Tralfaz Gottrockets

    All things Kardashian are fair game, including Kaitlyn, Kanye, the guy with the hookers, etc. Stereotypes & brownface – not so much. HOWEVER. The fake Mexican guys looked pretty lame compared to the San Mateo Carnavaleros and Los Bombers de Calle. Maybe including more representation by groups such as those will naturally end the racial stereotyping. Sammar Strutters need to up their game.

  • Rezqewr

    Aww, it sounds like someone’s pwecious widdle snowflakes got their widdle feewings hurt. If it weren’t for the fact that (Poundsign)CallMeCaitlyn made such a huge public spectacle of his “transition,” I might think the skit in poor taste, but a former national hero chose to take the public path, ergo, he’s open to scorn and ridicule.

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  • Sarah Clark Stuart

    The irony is that Rue Landau tried to head off and avoid this kind of bigotry after last year’s parade. Inky did a story about how new troupes will add diversity. Obviously, much more is needed. http://articles.philly.com/2015-12-28/news/69337139_1_mummers-parade-wench-brigade-human-relations-commission

  • Tony Clifton

    Bruce Jenner is a Fruit Loop, why the fake outrage, why the “this is how” your supposed to think, PC bullshit, Danny?

  • Bill

    The Caitlyn Jenner thing maybe yes, but nothing offensive about the Mexican skit. People need to chill out.

  • TheGloveDontFit

    It’s time to shut this down. It’s an annual embarrassment
    to our city.

    • Drjjsmythe927

      Oh PLEASE!! Grow the F**K up!
      Brucenstein is a Karwhorian who is making money on TV wh****g herself out a
      “whatever it is”. It’s the Mummers, no one cares about them!!

      • TheGloveDontFit

        No one cares about the Mummers, you mean. Unless you’re a Mummer, of course. Shut. It. Down.

        • Drjjsmythe927

          I attended the Mummers once when I was 21 yrs old
          Too many comics,runs to long,went to McGillian’s on Drury Lane where I got drunk,warm and seduced 2 drunken str8 Mummers to go home with me(the things we DID-scandalous)
          Back to my 1st statement-Who cares! Grow the F**K up!
          Brucezilla is a W***E for TV!!

  • wyncotejoan

    if jenner didn’t want to be talked and joked about sHe should have stayed a guy or kept his change quiet. he’s all over the place so saying what you want is allowed, if you don’t like the parade don’t watch, this humor is 100% Philly all the way, get over it or shut down the parade once and for all. these PC people are no better than terrorists that want the world according to their narrow view. They’re trying to do to the Mummers parade what they’ve done to Christmas or Columbus Day or public school programs or BSA. Change it and it won’t be the Mummers anymore. And a drunk screaming stupid stuff is and always will be just a drunk screaming stupid stuff, this is Philly, you wanna be PC go to NYC.

  • judethom

    Philadelphia is the greatest city on the planet? Who is this idiot writer?