We honored a Mummers legend on a night to remember in a room and a city of memories. In Philadelphia, in the Crystal Tea Room, Mummery said farewell to Mickey Adams, retiring Captain of Bill McIntyre’s Shooting Stars Fancy Brigade. Hundreds of Mummers from across the 5 divisions dined and joked, talked and cried in an emotional evening in which the best of the Mummer tradition shined. It was a Captain’s Night of Captain’s Nights.
Mickey Adams has been a Mummer most of his life and led the Shooting Stars as Captain for 20 parades. In that time he won more first prizes than any Captain in the Brigades and led the Stars to 1st Prize as a club nearly one out of every two times the Brigade hit Broad Street. Mickey was always trying to come up with new ideas and push the envelope. He reigned in a time of explosive change for the Fancy Brigades and made the most of it.
What some folks didn’t know is that for all of his success, he still got nervous on New Year’s morning. Mr. Adams would even, well, let’s just say he’d get a little sick to his stomach, and then he’d go out into the lights and win.
Fred Keller of the Jokers Fancy Brigade commented in his praise of Mickey, “If I was better at this maybe I’d have all those prizes. You’re welcome, Mickey!” Truth is, Fred was great and by being so he and the other captains made Mickey’s accomplishments all the more awesome.
This record of success in a tradition of competition is in itself remarkable, but it is Mickey the man who brought String Bands, competitive Brigades and normally do-their-own thing Wench Brigades together to salute one of the all time greats of Mummery. One after another they stepped up to tell of Mickey’s impact. This impact was felt from design to costuming to choreography to production to presentation. But speaker after speaker commented on the impact of Mickey the leader, Mickey the man who lives up to the great name, Bill McIntyre.
Most telling were the words of his own family, his sons Michael and Brian, who spoke of a devoted father and husband and leader. Mickey’s daughters and his wife, Alice, were there, too. If anyone in the room felt more love than Mickey, it was Alice. At the end, out came the umbrellas, the saxophones and banjos struck up the tune and a strut for the ages erupted.
When Mickey spoke, you learned something that you did not know, or maybe just had forgotten. Mummery is more than a hobby, more than entertainment or tradition. It is about family, including the larger family of the club and the community. Mickey Adams was drill sergeant, accountant, cheerleader, brother and father to dozens, maybe hundreds of young men. It’s the part of the tradition we don’t see among the makeup, masks and feathers of New Year’s Day. There are great names in the humble tradition of Mummery. Names like Isaacs, Burke, Bowen, Shannon and McIntyre. Mickey Adams takes his place among them.
Here are some more images.