Blackface controversy casts a pall over 2020 Mummers parade in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA -- It's a famed Philadelphia tradition: the strutting of the mummers down Broad Street on New Year's Day.

While the event was festive and fun, it was - once again - not without controversy.

A member of Froggy Carr, in the Wench Brigade, has been accused of wearing blackface.

Mayor Kenney said on Twitter, "The use of blackface by someone affiliated with Froggy Carr today was abhorrent and unacceptable. This selfish, hateful behavior has no place in the Mummers, or the city itself. We must be better than this. The group was disqualified and we will be exploring additional penalties."

People associated with the brigade say they can't believe someone in their group would do that.

"I think it's terrible, no one from Froggy Carr would condone that," said Michael McGrail, who's not an official member of Froggy Carr, but he was with the group during the parade. "The issue is there's 120 actual members, but you have 570 guys. You can't control all that."

Despite the controversy, 10,000 gold-slippered performers still strutted in the city's 120th mummer's parade, entertaining bleachers full of spectators.

"I love the string band, I love all that they put into the costumes, they're amazing," said Beth Ryales of Blackwood, New Jersey.

The performance took on a whole new meaning for the South Philadelphia String Band, who lost three of their own in a crash January 2, 2019.

"We're paying tribute to the three angels that we lost - my son, great friend Joey Ferry and his fiancé Kelly Wiseley, they're in our thoughts and prayers always and today we're dedicating the entire day to them," said Denny Palandro, the captain of the brigade and the father of Dennis Palandro, one of the victims.

EMBED More News Videos

Police in Del. had pursued driver who crashed in South Philly, killing 3. Jim Gardner reports during Action News at 6 p.m. on January 4, 2019.

As the performance ended, the family came together to acknowledge a loved one lost on his favorite day of the year.

"Happy New Year. Thanks for the support that we got form the entire mummer's community throughout the entire year. We love you guys and we need the support, so please keep it coming," said Palandro.
Copyright © 2020 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.