By Steve Tawa
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The annual Mummers’ Parade may be ending in South Philadelphia this coming New Year’s Day, rather than starting there. And it may not get to deep South Philadelphia at all.
Longtime Comic Division president Rich Porco recalls that back in the day, South Philly was the heart of the parade. But not anymore.
“There’s nobody there but the policemen directing traffic,” he muses.
So, rather than starting at Oregon Avenue and parading north on Broad Street to City Hall, organizers and the city are talking about reversing the parade’s direction.
Tom Loomis, president of the Philadelphia String Band Association, says the idea is to start at City Hall, where the judging will take place, and then just entertain the crowds as they strut south on Broad to Washington Avenue.
“The objective is to get the judging out of the way, get the props off the street, and bring the parade back to the people,” Loomis tells KYW Newsradio.
Porco and Loomis say the new configuration, if implemented this New Year’s Day, will be more parade-like, and less like a forced march up Broad ending in, as he calls it, “a line waiting to be judged.”
They’re also talking to the city about installing huge television screens along South Broad at various intersections, such as Pine and Washington, and setting up family friendly zones along the route.
Leo Dignam, the city’s deputy commissioner for parks and recreation, believes the condensed route will reconnect the Mummers with the crowds, creating more interaction between participants and spectators.
He also says the new route would cut out more than half the length of the parade, which would save on costs, especially the number of police officers assigned to that detail.
A final decision is expected in September.