LOCAL NEWS: Wawa Welcome America Parade to Have First LGBT Float

Wawa Welcome America logo

The LGBT float for the Wawa Welcome Forth of July Parade will include Mummers, local drag queens, and community leaders.

It’s been roughly 10 years since the LGBTQ community began to be openly included in the annual Wawa Welcome America Fourth of July Parade, but this year we will get our own float. Plans for the inclusion of a float came from Under the Sun Productions, which has worked with Wawa Welcome America in the past. But the most surprising support came from the Mummers — yes, the group that back in January offended a good chunk of the community. “This July 4, it’s even more important that not only do we have the Mummers close by, but that we celebrate inclusion, forgiveness and moving forward together as Philadelphians,” said openly gay Wawa Welcome America head Jeff Guaracino. Although Wawa Welcome America had a 50th Anniversary commemorative float reflecting on the LGBT civil rights movement last year, this is the first official designated float for the community expected to run annually. The float will be included in the “gay section” of the parade, which will feature local drag queen Brittany Lynn, the Lambda Car Club, Hegeman String Band and LGBT members of the networking club Rainbow Alliance. The Wawa Welcome America events are scheduled to run this year from June 27th through July 4th. Read more »

How to Deal With the Mummers: 4 Steps Inspired by Your Racist Aunt on Facebook

Finnegans New Years Brigade 2016

Finnegans New Year’s Brigade’s Caitlyn Jenner performance on Friday. (Photo: Dan McQuade)

If you believe the Mummers, things will be different next year.

In a press release issued Sunday, parade organizers condemned this year’s antics — including brown face, signs referring to Caitlyn Jenner as a “tranny,” an attack on a gay man and This Unholy Specimen — and outlined an impressive, seemingly sincere plan to make next year a more inclusive event.

Newly minted Mayor Jim Kenney, for one, seems hopeful. “There’s been lots of strides that the Mummers Parade has made over the years, but there is always one dumb thing that happens that really does affect people and offend people,” he said Tuesday. “We have to try to start over, and we’re working on that with the human relations commission and our LGBT affairs leader Nellie Fitzpatrick.” And now there’s discussion of sensitivity training, pre-screening of acts, sanctions and more.

I like Kenney, and I hope he’s right. But at the same time, this is only his fifth day on the job. It’s easy to have hope less than a week into even the most impossible of gigs, to truly believe that a mix of hard work and know-how can bring about change and uncover truth. (I’ve never been mayor, but I have bartended at TGI Friday’s, so I feel pretty qualified to pass on this advice: When your blender shorts out during the middle of the Ultimate Mudslide happy hour that is Philadelphia, Mr. Kenney, just try to remember all of the reasons you don’t want to go to jail. I find writing them on a napkin helps.) Read more »

Insider: Kenney Can Reform the Mummers — Legally

Finnegans New Year’s Brigade’s Caitlyn Jenner performance on Friday. | Photo by Dan McQuade

Finnegans New Year’s Brigade’s Caitlyn Jenner performance on Friday. | Photo by Dan McQuade

(Editor’s Note: This is an opinion column from a Citified insider.)

The Mummers Parade was a national disgrace. Again. Can’t we just ban them, or, at least consign them to a march on Oregon Avenue?

Probably not. But that doesn’t mean we’re helpless in seeking a Mummers Parade that reflects and celebrates all Philadelphians. Read more »

Mummers: We Promise to Clean Up Our Acts Next Year

Finnegans New Years Brigade 2016

Finnegans New Year’s Brigade’s Caitlyn Jenner performance on Friday. (Photo: Dan McQuade)

The Mummers say things are going to change.

Several skits sparked outrage at the Mummers Parade this year. This has happened before, and pretty much every year since the beginning of the parade, but social media makes it easier to spread outrage nowadays. And the Mummers have reacted. Yesterday, parade organizers issued a press release on the controversy: Read more »

2016 Mummers Parade: The Ultimate Guide

The Quaker City String Band (Photo courtesy City of Philadelphia)

The Quaker City String Band (Photo courtesy City of Philadelphia)

If you’ve lived in Philadelphia all of your life, you no doubt know at least a bit about our annual New Year’s Day tradition known as the Mummers Parade. But if you’re a new resident (over 100,000 millennials alone since 2007), the longtime ritual might be a bit puzzling, both conceptually and logistically. So whether you’re an old timer who wants to know what time the Wench Brigades begin or a newcomer wondering what the heck a Wench Brigade even is, our exhaustive Mummers Parade Guide has something for you. Read more »

Diversifying New Year’s Day: Inside Philadelphia’s First Puerto Rican Mummers Troupe

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All photos | Bradley Maule

Sixteen-year-old Niurka Mojica stands in the center of the circle, a mass of blondish curls piled into a bun and accented with a red flower. As three drummers pound congas, she lifts the hem of her billowing red skirt up in the air, then shakes it down to her toes. She puts her hands on her hips and thrusts her chest out. She grabs the skirt again and swivels her hips. Around the circle there are singers and percussionists and other girls shaking brightly colored skirts back and forth. A couple of masked men in satin costumes bop along to the music, as does someone holding a gigantic satin-clad puppet whose horned head almost touches the ceiling.

All of these people at Christ Church & St. Ambrose at Sixth and Venango are members of Los Bomberos de la Calle, a Puerto Rican bomba y plena group that’s part of the new Philadelphia Division of the Mummers Parade, which was formed to increase diversity among the parade’s participants. Today’s rehearsal for the parade has swelled Los Bomberos’ ranks from about 10 to 20, and even brought some people — as well as the giant puppet — from Allentown. On New Year’s Day, group founder Tony Mendez estimates there’ll be 30 or 40 people marching, all of whom will make history: It’ll be the first time in the parade’s 160 years that a Puerto Rican group — or any Latino group, for that matter — will march. Leo Dignam, of the Department of Recreation, told division members at a meeting a few weeks ago, “This will be the big story of the Mummers Parade this year.” Read more »

Porngate Investigator Steps Down Over Conflict of Interest

In this Sept. 13, 2011, photo, Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice J. Michael Eakin poses for photographs with the court's other justices at Philadelphia's historic Old City Hall. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court said Monday, Nov. 2, 2015, it was deferring action on explicit emails involving Eakin to the Judicial Conduct Board, which is currently investigating. The court issued a statement that said it was taking that approach based on the recommendation of a law firm it hired to review the email scandal involving Justice Michael Eakin. The law firm said Eakin sent emails that included one depicting a topless woman and others with "purported jokes and banter that are offensive." (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice J. Michael Eakin. | Photo by Matt Rourke/AP

Good morning, Philadelphia. Here’s what you need to know today:

Porngate investigator Robert Graci stepped down after the Daily News revealed that he once campaigned for Supreme Court Justice J. Michael Eakin, a/k/a the guy he was supposed to be investigating.

“Maybe State Attorney General Kathleen Kane was right about that old-boys’ network in Pennsylvania politics,” the Daily News reports. “Apparently, it even reaches into the state Supreme Court. Wednesday, the chief counsel for the state’s Judicial Conduct Board stepped aside from an investigation into a Supreme Court justice’s raunchy emails after the Daily News reported that he was a friend of the justice’s and had played a lead role in his re-election campaign.”

All of the women on City Council are holding District Attorney Seth Williams’ feet to the fire over Porngate.

The women of City Council are joining with the Philadelphia chapter of the National Organization of Women on Thursday to condemn “the demeaning, misogynistic and racist emails” swapped by former state prosecutors who now work for Williams, Philly Mag’s Citified reports. After conducting a review of the email chain this summer, Williams said he wouldn’t fire the prosecutors and would instead only force them to undergo “sensitivity training.” Council members Cindy Bass and Maria Quiñones-Sánchez said this week the prosecutors should be canned. “These people make judgement calls on people’s lives every single day,” said Sánchez. “There’s so much questioning of our judicial system, from the police to the attorney general, and we don’t need to further complicate that with the perception that people making decisions about which cases go to trial think it’s okay to do what they did.” Read more »

PHL17’s All-Mummers Channel Staying on Air Indefinitely

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“That is the fourth Macarena of the New Year,” Steve Highsmith said just after we turned on the TV. It was last December. At happy hour, I was talking about the new All-Mummers channel PHL17 had launched that week. When some friends and I returned to my house after happy hour, we turned on the channel and heard Highsmith’s count.

By the time everyone left that evening, we had seen four more Macarena skits in the 1997 parade. The Mummers that year were like the Democrats in 1996: All Macarena, all the time. But I saw more than just that parade. I watched a lot of Mummers during the month of December — more than I’d like to admit. I saw a lot of sequins, feathers and Jerry Blavat. But when the month was over, I expected the all-Mummers Parade channel would be mothballed for another year.

Read more »

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