The mayor of Philadelphia sharply criticized two men who wore blackface while marching in the city’s annual — and often racially troubling — New Year’s Day Mummers Parade, calling their actions “abhorrent and unacceptable.”
The group the men apparently were affiliated with, the Froggy Carr Wench Brigade, was also disqualified from Wednesday’s parade and may face additional penalties. It wasn’t clear Thursday whether the men were members of the group or just marching with it.
The parade features ornate costumes and musical performances and attracts thousands of spectators each year. City staffers monitoring the parade route saw at least one marcher wearing blackface, officials said. When they reported it, parade officials disqualified the group from competition.
“The use of blackface by someone affiliated with Froggy Carr today was abhorrent and unacceptable,” Mayor Jim Kenney tweeted Wednesday. “This selfish, hateful behavior has no place in the Mummers, or the city itself. We must be better than this.”
The group was paying homage to Gritty, the hairy, googly-eyed mascot of hockey’s Philadelphia Flyers that is orange all over, face included.
Previous parades have been marred by racially and socially offensive displays. Organizers have boosted cultural education efforts in recent years in a bid to create a more respectful and inclusive tone throughout their traditional celebration.
The new initiatives included sensitivity training and online videos on the rules of satire.
Associated Press researcher Rhonda Shafner contributed to this report from New York.