Philadelphia's annual New Year's Day Mummers Parade has come under fire from critics and city officials including the incoming mayor after participants engaged in blackface and mocked gay and transgender people, according to ABC News. The parade, which has been running for 116 years and is said to be "Philadelphia's Mardi Gras," has annually been criticized for its lack of diversity and its failure to be accessible for the underrepresented black, Latino and LGBT portions of its communities, according to NBC Philadelphia.
While the organizers officially banned blackface performances in 1964 it is still a prevalent issue in the parade and was featured this year by groups in ponchos and their faces painted brown, which were criticized by the Latino group Juntos as "appalling," according to the Guardian.
The parade also featured the Finnegan New Year's Brigade, a local comic club that performed an act parodying Caitlyn Jenner's transition to presenting as a woman, according to NBC Philadelphia.
The act included members dressing as Jenner and signs being displayed with her image on a Froot Loops box, according to the Associated Press. One member of the group was caught on video shouting expletives and homophobic slurs, according to NBC Philadelphia.
The groups' actions have been criticized by Mayor-elect Jim Kenney, who tweeted that "it was bad. Hurtful to many Philadelphians. Our Trans Citizens do not deserve this type of satire/insult. #Berespectful."
Members of the group were also accused of harassment and assault towards a gay man who was walking his dog near the parade, according to the Guardian.
Group captain Mike Inemer responded to the outrage by condemning the member left on video and banning him from the group in a press release. He did not apologize for the Jenner skit, claiming that the parade's history has always included cross-dressing, according to ABC News. Other leaders of various Mummers Parade groups stated that the parade "categorically rejects expressions of hate and bigotry."