In order to be allowed into the parade, to be allowed to go up Broad Street, a String Band must have at least 40 costumed members and no more than 67. At least 40 of those costumed members must be playing a primary instrument, meaning one of the following: reed, string, drum, cymbal, or glockenspiel. Other kinds of bells and other instruments, such as a flute, for example, are considered secondary instruments. There can be no electronic amplification of the sound the bands make. No live animals are allowed. You’ll see the use of carbon dioxide to propel the confetti, but there can be no use of water, smoke bombs, firecrfackers or fire.
Timing is important. Each band is given 4 minutes and 30 seconds to perform. That starts with the first note and ends with the first costumed band member crossing the end or “exit” line. A band that violates this timing rule is penalized one point per second of violation. No commercial or advertisement of any kind is allowed on the costumes. This last rule helps preserve the purity of the themes but you can see how it also hampers the bands in fundraising, especially in an era when government is able to provide less and itself is asking more financially from parade participants.
There are many more rules for the String Band Division and for each of the other divisions. For example, in the Wench Brigade Division, the 7 oldest wench brigades of the previous parade are “grandfathered in”, plus there can be one lottery club. The Fancy Brigades are limited to 4 minutes and 30 seconds, plus 45 seconds to leave the stage floor of the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Just a few of the few dozen pages of rules pertaining to the participants in the 2011 Mummers Parade.