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November 28, 2016

Mummers unveil effort to promote inclusiveness after last year's controversy

With just over a month remaining until the 2017 Mummers Parade, officials published Monday an updated website aimed at promoting education and inclusiveness for an event so often marred by controversy.

The redesign will also display Mummers history, explain the parade's divisions and highlight community involvement by group members. The site boasts that the parade, which will celebrate its 118th year on New Year's Day, is bolstered by the "diverse communities the mummers represent."

The new website dedicates one page to "Educational Sessions," which shows three videos about cultural appropriation, the appropriate use of satire, and LGBT sensitivity.

Last year, parade officials denounced a number of skits, as well as incidents that occurred outside the parade route. They included a performance that made fun of Caitlyn Jenner and a beating of a gay man by several men in Mummers gear.

Then-Mayor-elect Jim Kenney called the showing "hurtful" while other city officials deemed the parade "insensitive."

The embarrassment prompted Mummers leaders to meet with city officials and various community leaders to provide "safe, family-oriented entertainment."

A series of live training sessions was developed and all group captains were required to attend. Mummers leaders also encouraged all who participate in the parade to watch the videos, which are publicly available on the website.

Also new this year is a rule that requires the Mummers to submit programs, themes, costumes designs and makeup to city officials for recommendations and approval. Any group that does not comply will not be eligible to be judged.

Parade officials noted that the Mummers' "desire to provide safe, family-oriented entertainment that is inclusive and respects everyone regardless of culture, race or sexual identification."

Weather permitting, this year's parade is scheduled for Sunday, January 1.