Mr. Clown is Back in Town

FStermel110460778_10203110514056209_4193242498290580755_nFrank Stermel was a clown and that remains a wonderful thing.  Frank Mummed on 2 Street and on Broad Street pretty much all of his life.  He was so dedicated to Mummery and was so good at being a Mummer that he became known as “Mr. Clown.”  FStermel210486376_10203110514616223_3378558278823362925_nIn 1969, Frank was inducted into the Mummers and Shooters Hall of Fame.  Inside the Mummers Museum, it is Frank Stermel whose image still teaches us how to strut.

Frank started strutting on Broad in the mid-1920’s.  It was the age of Charles Lindbergh and of the first trans-Atlantic phone call.  Calvin Coolidge was President.  A silk dress could be had for $15.  The first chisel was taken to Mt. Rushmore, and  String Bands were still the “new” Mummers.

Frank went up Broad Street the first time as a page boy for the Wheeler Fancy Club.  For being a page, holding the long Captain’s Cape, Frank got a hot dog and a soda.  He would grow through the depression and increasingly take to strutting for his family and friends and his South Philadelphia neighborhood, and of course, up Broad on New Year’s Day.
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Stermel became very good at it.  He rose to Captain of the Purul Comic Club.  Among his awards was a 1st Prize in the Comic Division in 1942.  He had a limitless love for the tradition and for making people smile.  He would parade with the Comics, then go down Broad Street, pick up with Aqua String Band and go back up the Street, then return yet another time down Broad to join the Avenuers Fancy Brigade for their Strut around the Hall.FStermel310494834_10203110515056234_6305980373638233081_n

He was a railroad man, working with the Pennsylvania Railroad until he retired in 1976, the year of the nation’s bicentennial, and the birth of the Mummers Museum. Frank was an early member of the Museum’s Board of Directors. Fstermel510430391_10203110515976257_5867684103164022851_n He was Sergeant at Arms for the New Year’s Mummers and Shooters  for 20 years.

Even after being given 6 months to live after a cancer diagnosis, he strutted for another 7 years, walking from 2nd and Reed to the Museum to entertain as Mr. Clown at parties and events.  Frank would pass away at the age of 71 in 1987.  By that time, he had strutted formally as a Mummer in 61 parades.

 

IMG_20140717_200046_687The nearly 40-year-old film exhibit in which he shows us all how to strut has now been restored and is running, and plans are in the works for a larger overhaul of the exhibit.  Much thanks go to his son, Michael, and his family, and to Tony Sprague, Donato Marino, Mike Roseman, Kevin Crooks and Mark Montanaro.  As the quality sounds of the Woodland String Band played outside the Museum, I was on hand for the re-dedication inside of the restored film display.IMG_20140717_193144_713  I also am a humbled recipient of the Mr. Clown award begun in Frank Stermel’s honor, given to people who are meaningful to the Mummer tradition in the heartfelt manner of Mr. Stermel.

Frank Stermel810487997_10203110514256214_5980221484615185363_nFrank Stermel was the working American, the family man, the neighborhood man at the heart of Philadelphia Mummery.  When you go to the Museum and see him strut, you are seeing hundreds of thousands of family members, of Philadelphians, connected not only through blood, but also through tradition, displayed in the simple joy of a street dance. Now, at the Mummers Museum at least, Mr. Clown, is back in town, ready to show the strut to new generations.

It is wonderful that Mr. Clown lives on, for it is at once community and personal.  Says Mike Stermel of his dad, “He was One of a Kind…I can go to the museum, push a button and “HE DANCES FOR ME.”

“First Sunday” today at Mummers Museum

TheIMG_6035 1st “First Sunday” event takes place this afternoon at the Mummers Museum. It all starts at 1pm. There’s an historical lecture and then the great big sounds of the New Sound Brass Band!

This just in…Wendy Wins! Woo-Hoo!

Wendy H IMG_20130604_151906_966Wendy Hamilton has won a significant award and congratulations to her and to all who voted for her.  Here’s the beginning of the press release that just came out.

SUGARHOUSE CASINO GENERAL MANAGER WINS “WOMAN WHO EMPOWERS US” AWARD

Wendy Hamilton Honored by 95.7 BEN FM at Woman of the Week Awards Event

PHILADELPHIA — April 14, 2014 — SugarHouse Casino General Manager Wendy Hamilton was honored today with the “Woman Who Empowers Us” award from 95.7 BEN FM at the radio station’s annual Woman of the Week main event.

 

Put on Your Online Voting Slippers!

Wendy H IMG_20130604_151906_966Here’s a chance to show Mummer Power!  Wendy Hamilton, of SugarHouse Casino, has been an enlightened friend to many community causes, including the Mummers, and the leader of a team creating a positive work environment at her business since becoming a leading business person in the Philadelphia region.  She is up for the “Woman Who Empowers Us” award, presented by 95.7 BEN-FM.

You can vote, as as many times as you like, and they don’t ask any personal information.  Here’s the link.

http://www.ilikebenfm.com/extras/surveys.aspx?surveyId=12302

Wendy is in one of the 4 categories offered.  In another category, I would suggest Cathy Engel Menendez, of PECO, for the Comcast Business “Productivity” Award.  Cathy is an excellent manager and communicator.

In the Cancer Treatment Centers category, I know well that they are all equally deserving, so I will not recommend one over another.

 

Tears and Prayers for Weston

Wes2012-12-23_18-53-47_307It’s one of those moments when you wonder what it all means.  I met a little boy and his family a little over a year ago.  His name was Weston Keeton(in the middle),  Mom, Julie, was as kind, patient and gracious as they come; as real as a good, almost overwhelmed mom is.  Julie and her husband, Adam, and their children are from Tennessee, but Julie and Weston had been living in Philadelphia for almost a third of Weston’s life.  He needed a heart transplant.  Waiting and going in and out of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia became the way of life.  Julie talked about how kind and great CHOP and all of Philadelphia had been for her family,  The Gift of Life staff was stellar.  Some Mummers from Fralinger String Band became friends of the Keetons.  Adam had to keep working in Tennessee and take care of the other kids, except for when they could all get away to be with Julie and Weston here, as Weston hoped for a matching heart.  Lots of folks were doing everything they could.  But, now, 7-year-old Weston Keeton has passed away.  I thank Weston for his smile and for the courage a little boy cannot understand but lived everyday.  May Julie, Adam and Weston’s brothers and sisters come to understand their grief and find the answer.

Hall of Fame: Fran Casper

IMG_20140222_202930_13911 Fancy Brigades and leaders from other Mummers divisions this weekend stood and applauded Saturnalian NYA President Fran Casper.  If you want to know a Mummer, catch up to Casper.  Franny lives up to the best of Mummery, including dedication, family and a love of the tradition of this people powered hobby.

Mr. Casper has been a mainstay of Saturnalian since 2001.  He got started with another Brigade, the Jokers, in 1973.  The next year he joined the Merry Makers and remained with them until 1996.  He took a break from Mummery, but joined the “Sats” in 2001.  His brother, Tommy, was the Captain.  Franny’s commitment was obvious from the start, however, and by 2004, he had been elected president of Saturnalian. 10 years later, he is still president.

Fran Casper was inducted this weekend into the Fancy Brigade Hall of Fame.  Current Saturnalian Captain, Jack Hatty, Jr., delivered the induction speech describing Fran at the annual Fancy Brigade banquet .  He called Fran proud and selfless, a competitor and a doer.  “Not one time since I have known him, has he put himself over the club,” said Jack.  Fran’s leadership is all the more inspirational because of physical challenges he’s been working through the past few years.  Hatty added, “He is still the glue that keeps the club together and the president that pushes each of us to be a better member. That is the mark of a leader.”

Congratulations to Hall of Famer Fran Casper and to the members of the Jokers, the Merry Makers and especially, the members of Saturnalian NYA.

2015 String Band Order of Enjoyment

Here’s something to crow about.  The String Band order of March.   2014IMG_20140101_151519_118It’s been a busy few days as members of the Philadelphia Mummers String Bands debate within their clubs how to approach their themes and production costs for the 2015 SugarHouse Casino Mummers Parade.  They’ve had nearly a week to digest the official Order of March, or Enjoyment as I say.  (See Order below.)  The order was chosen by lot at the Mummers Museum. Traditionally, most bands view going up early in the order as a disadvantage in terms of judging.  The judges work hard to make sure that they are not under-weighting early performers, but the general belief persists among string band members that going early hurts your finishing position.  Most of the results seem to support that belief, but you have to remember that through much of parade history many of the power bands, or bands that finished higher in the previous year, used to have more say as to what position that they marched in. They usually chose the back half of the division.  Also, I found very gratifying in  the 2014 SugarHouse Casino Mummers Parade the effort in production, rehearsal and parade day performance of bands that went up in the first several positions but looked at doing so as a positive challenge and as a test of professionalism.  Those bands, from Woodland going up first to South Philadelphia marching in 8th position, were outstanding.2014aIMG_20140101_153411_769

So, below is the 2015 Order of Enjoyment.  No themes are public yet.  But, the past week has been full of string band members assessing their chances and trying to figure out how to play the order to their advantage.

  2015 String Band Division Order of March1.  Uptown
2.  Greater Overbrook
3.  Duffy
4.  Durning
5.  Trilby
6.  South Philadelphia
7.  Aqua
8.  Greater Kensington
9.  Fralinger
10. Polish American
11. Broomall
12. Quaker City
13. Woodland
14. Pennsport
15. Avalon
16. Hegemen
17. Ferko

Tonight’s the Night

In the words of that sage, Rod Stewart, Tonight’s the Night.  The 2014 SugarHouse Casino Viewer’s Choice Awards!  The announcement of the best string band and the best fancy brigade on New Year’s Day in the eyes and ears of the viewers will take place this evening at SugarHouse. Festivities begin in the 6 o’clock hour.  Quaker City String Band is providing musical entertainment.  The 2 winning clubs will each receive a trophy and $1,000 from SugarHouse.  In addition, there will be 3 raffle drawings each awarding $1,000. All Mummers mother clubs are invited to take part in those 3 raffles but you need to be there. Check in when you arrive at The Refinery to let them know that your club, such as Murray, or Greater Kensington, is there.

Mummers Alert: Viewer’s Choice Awards this Thursday night

Neither snow, nor rain, nor subfreezing cold shall prevent the celebration of The People’s Voice!  The 2014 SugarHouse Casino Viewer’s Choice Awards will be announced Thursday evening, January 23rd, between 6pm and 8pm at SugarHouse.  It’s also a chance for other clubs to win money. Please read the Mummerific release from SugarHouse below.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MUMMERS VIEWERS’ CHOICE WINNERS TO BE ANNOUNCED AT SUGARHOUSE THURSDAY NIGHT
PHL17 to Name Fancy Brigade and String Band Club Winners of the Popular Vote

PHILADELPHIA — Jan. 21, 2014 — The Mummers are still strutting strong at SugarHouse Casino, where PHL17 will announce the winners of the 2014 Viewers’ Choice competition on Thursday, Jan. 23.

SugarHouse has been the title sponsor of the New Year’s Day Mummers Parade for the past three years and will continue to support Philadelphia’s Mummers through 2016. As part of this community partnership, Philly’s casino also hosts various Mummers clubs throughout the year for events in its Refinery restaurant and bar—including the awards, which will be held from 6—8 p.m.

Starting on Jan. 1, voters could pick their favorite String Band and Fancy Brigade on PHL17.com—and thousands of votes were submitted. The winners of the popular vote will be announced at the celebration event, and each will take home a trophy. And as a bonus, the winners this year will each receive a $1,000 prize from SugarHouse.

New for 2014, Philly’s casino is also giving away $1,000 prizes to three other ‘mother’ clubs in attendance. To be eligible, a club must have at least one representative present at the event, and should provide the name of their mother club upon check-in. At the end of the awards portion, SugarHouse will randomly select the winning mother clubs.

“It’s always exciting to see who will win the Viewers’ Choice vote each year because all of the clubs put in so much hard work to give Philly a spectacular parade,” Wendy Hamilton, general manager of SugarHouse Casino, said. “That’s why we’re looking forward to upping the ante this year, so that three other clubs have a shot at getting some added funding for their sets, suits and props for New Year’s 2015.”

Mummers and their families will also be treated to complimentary appetizers at The Refinery, and Mummers string bands will be providing the musical entertainment.

“We had historic ratings for the 2014 parade on PHL17, which led to a high volume of votes for the Viewers’ Choice awards this year,” said Vince Giannini, general manager of PHL17. “Along with the awards handed out by the judges on New Year’s Day, our online poll gives those at home a chance to pick their favorite clubs for an added competitive element.”

To learn more about the SugarHouse Casino Mummers Parade, please visit http://www.PHL17.com/mummers.

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ABOUT SUGARHOUSE CASINO
SugarHouse, which opened in September 2010 as Philly’s casino, features 1,602 slots, up to 56 table games, fun and unique dining options, riverfront views, and free on-site parking. The casino employs approximately 1,100 people, and for three consecutive years has been voted a “Best Place to Work” in the Philadelphia Business Journal and a “Top Workplace” in the Philadelphia Inquirer for two years. For more information, visit http://www.sugarhousecasino.com.

ABOUT PHL17
WPHL-TV, known as PHL17, has been broadcasting the annual Mummers Parade – a Philadelphia tradition for more than 100 years – on New Year’s Day since 1993. Each year the parade draws a crowd of thousands in Philadelphia, while Philadelphia’s PHL17 achieves some of its highest ratings of the year.

ABOUT THE MUMMERS
The Mummers Parade is the longest-running New Year’s Day tradition in the country. Its roots date back to the late 1600s in Philadelphia, and the first officially sanctioned parade by the city was in 1901. The parade features complex, custom costumes, music, and renowned pageantry with more than 10,000 participants.

2014 Viewers Choice Finalists!

MUMMERS_ROWThe 2014 SugarHouse Casino Viewer’s Choice Awards will be announced a week from tonight, on Thursday, January 23, 2014 at SugarHouse Casino!  The 2 winning clubs will each get a $1,000 prize.

And, in addition, every Mummers “Mother” Club present that night has an opportunity to win one of several $1,000 raffle prizes!  Details coming on Monday. But, a heads up. To win the raffle, you have to be there Thursday night. Plan for 6pm arrival. More details on Monday.

For now, congratulations to the 5 Finalists in the String Band Division and the 5 Finalists in the Fancy Brigade Division, as determined by the Viewers. The 5 in the Fancy Brigade Division, are, in alphabetical order:

Bill McIntyre’s Shooting Stars

Downtowners

Golden Crown

South Philly Vikings

Spartans

And the 5 String Band Finalists, in alphabetical order, are:

Ferko

Hegeman

Polish American

Quaker City

South Philadelphia

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