I struggled in the last 24 hours over what to say about Sunday night. The reason is because I became part of what I was writing about. I usually try to avoid that. But this is different. The annual Philadelphia Mummers String Band Association Awards Banquet took place at the Union League in Center City, Philadelphia. Nearly 500 people were on hand, mostly from 16 String Band Clubs, but also there were Congressman Bob Brady, Philadelphia Deputy Recreation Commissioner Leo Dignam and others, including representatives from other divisions in Mummery, the grand Philadelphia tradition of music, costume, entertainment, fun, family, community and freedom.
Recognition was bestowed on the bands and captains who performed on New Year’s Day, especially the top finishers, Quaker City String Band and Polish American String Band Captain Mark Danielewicz. New officers were introduced and began their year of official duties, led by new President of the String Band
Association, Marty Good. Farewell and deep thanks were extended to Mr. John Pignotti, who served as President for 12 years. Also that evening, several people were admitted into the Philadelphia Mummers String Band Association Hall of Fame. First to be inducted was the late Jim Jaep, formerly of Quaker City, Greater Overbrook and South Philadelphia String Band, a former Philadelphia Park Police mounted police officer, a great musician and arranger, a great teacher and a great father. His son, Mike, accepted. Wayne Boyd, of Quaker City String Band, has now been inducted. The words dedication, reliability and loyalty are synonymous with Wayne Boyd. Jim Tater, Sr., entered the Hall Sunday night. Jim started as a drummer with Greater Kensington String Band and has worked in the Association. He is one of the organizers of the original Mayfair/ Holmesburg Thanksgiving Day Parade. Jerry Crompton, of Avalon String Band for nearly 30 years and several bands before that, followed Jim into the Hall of Fame. Musician and mentor come to mind with Jerry. Next was Marty Good, the new President and a Mummer for decades mostly with two bands, Quaker City now, and previously Ferko String Band. History was made Sunday night. The first two women are now admitted into the Hall of Fame.
Cheryl Crowe and Peggy Rullo, both of Duffy String Band, were inducted. The daughters of the late Henry Kunzig have served not only to sustain and improve their own band, but also have long lifted the performance of other clubs. Cheryl is now the Sgt. At Arms of the Association. Peg is getting ready for her 37th strut up Broad Street.
The String Band Association then surprised me. Stunned me, really. In nearly 20 years of broadcasting the Mummers I have witnessed the respect shown others by the Association and by individual clubs. I see the charity work and the family and community togetherness they engender. But, I did not expect this. I am now a members of the Philadelphia Mummers String Band Association Hall of Fame. In the 55 years since the Hall of Fame was established only 3 people not a member of a club have been inducted. Mr. Joseph Brogan and Congressman Robert Brady preceded me. Though I have not been a member of any one club, I feel a part of every one and of every man, woman and child who heads up the street. Thank you.
Please enjoy some of the photos I took at the Philadelphia Mummers String Band Association Awards Banquet.