A kinder, gentler Mummers Parade appears to be in Philly’s future

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 A Mummer struts during the annual New Year's Day parade in 2014. The actions of some Mummers have cast a shadow over the event. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)

A Mummer struts during the annual New Year's Day parade in 2014. The actions of some Mummers have cast a shadow over the event. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)

A move is afoot to have Mummers go through sensitivity training before the 2017 parade.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said times have changed and the mummers need to drop insensitive behavior disguised as humor or satire.

During the traditional New Year’s parade, some Mummers mocked Caitlyn Jenner, were accused of harassing gays and painted their faces brown to portray Mexicans.

“If you are a Mummer group, and you want to make fun of me, go right ahead,” Kenney said Wednesday. “I’m a politician, I’m an elected official, you can put on a big mask with my face on it and say anything you want about me.

“You can’t pick on trans people.  You can’t pick on gay people. You can’t pick on immigrants,” the new mayor continued. “It’s not funny, it’s not satire.  Satire is something that is funny, not hurtful.”

Sensitivity training could be the way to go, according to Rue Landau of the Philadelphia Human Relations Commission.

“At the minimum, certainly different rules and policies,” she said. “Sensitivity training and education is key … we’ve got 12 months to do this. We can do this, we can make this happen.”

Kenney said he believes face-to-face meetings could help.

“Maybe some of our Mummers sit down with some of our trans citizens and listen to them about how hard life is and see how difficult life can be,” he suggested.

George Badley, an attorney who has been representing the Mummers for years, said this could be a teachable moment.

“I think that this situation that arose … we need to make lemonade out of lemons,” he said. “This is going to be an opportunity to develop more dialogue, more understanding and a deeper understanding of the circumstances.”

There is no deal yet, but it seems very likely the Mummers Parade will look different next year.

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