As someone who has witnessed the volunteer greatness of Wyndmoor Hose Company #1 as the members serve in many ways throughout the Montgomery County and Philadelphia community, there is yet another reason to honor their success. The fire company has now presented a check for $5,000 to Fox Chase Cancer Center for breast cancer research. Wyndmoor Hose #1 raised the money through its Pink Siren campaign in 2012.
I stopped by Belgrade and Oxford today in Fishtown to say hello again to a legend. Walt Pomroy has been raising donations for the Muscular Dystrophy Association for 43 years. He sells hot dogs and soda outside his house for a a buck-50 and has raised more than 90-thousand dollars in those 4+ decades. That’s a lot of kids and adults helped. Thank you, Walt. The MDA Show of Strength airs Sunday night, September 2, 2012 on PHl17.
Before Madonna was booked for the Indianapolis mini concert this weekend, the archival wizards at PHL17, Philadelphia, unearthed the reported 1st ever tv appearance, nearly 30 years ago, by a young and soon to be up and coming singer named Madonna. It aired in 1983 on the program “Dancin’ on Air” on PHl17. This was not long after the release of her first single. There’s so much in this video, it is priceless.
Okay, the Fancy Division members of the Mummers are young , too. Young in age or young in heart, but I want to start with a teenager named Mikayla, who is not a Mummer, but who embodies the best of the Mummers. Mikayla attends Council Rock High School South in Holland. She organized a 2 and a half hour “Dance for a Cure,” featuring scores of performers from Philadelphia, New Jersey and the Pennsylvania suburbs. I emceed the event and was so impressed with how well run it was, the hard work she and other teens put in to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Eastern Pennsylvania. More often than not I meet young people who give me hope about the future and they, like, Mikayla, should be recognized.
Now, I also attended the annual Fancy Division Banquet at the Waterfall Room of Swan Caterers in South Philadelphia and let me tell you that more than a few of the attendees could do a little dancing, too. Awards were also handed out to the folks who had finished in 1st Place in various categories on New Year’s Day. Congratulations to Hog Island Fancy Club, Captain Kenny Medeiros, Zachary Carr, Alanna Campbell, Samantha and Michele Susson, Bonnie Cooper, Bryanne Ryley, Jesse Scheffield, Jozef Jozefowski, Dan Rossano, Mike Blaus, Chris Duffy and Sean Conch. Congratulations as well to Brian Corry who has been inducted into the Fancy Division Hall of Fame. Jacky Bam Bam, who I think of as the Alice Cooper of Mummers, was there. Jim Julia, Rich and Jess Porco and others from other divisions. It was also great to see Dr. Mark Wray, former Captain and a legend in the Fancy Division.
You could certainly say that the D in Dana Theil stands for dance. Dana is co-director of the Pennsport School of Dance in South Philadelphia. Her philosophy is straight forward: Have fun and, says Dana, “You’ve got to put on the best show that you can with what you have and that’s all I try to do.” That just begins to describe the mother of 4 that so many Mummers appreciate. Dana is the long-time choreographer of Fralinger String Band, which has won 8 First Prizes in a row. A piece of each of those prizes belongs to her. While Fralinger is known for doing everything well, especially music, what often gets lost to observers is that while they are playing, they are often dancing. In addition, the dancers and the captain must be among the best or first prize is out of reach for the band. Current Fralinger Captain Thomas D’Amore won First Prize his first year as Captain under Dana’s guidance. He says her personality, she easily gets along with everyone, helps her communicate with dozens of string band members. Dana is also from a family of Mummers. Many of those closest to her are connected to the Fancy Brigade, Jokers NYA. Former Fralinger Captain Bill Bowen, Jr., says ”I think she can look at a package and whatever production is being done that particular year, not only in dance but in band movement,” and help form the whole 4 and a half minute show. Bill spotted Dana’s talent when she was a teenager. In the first year he took her advice, he won First Prize. Bill would go on to become the winningest captain on Broad Street. This year Dana is once again offering her expertise to Fralinger, but she is also assisting Ferko String Band and Avalon String Band. Both bands know they are in great hands. Ferko Captain Anthony Celenza, for example, tells me, “”We’re hoping that she can be the good luck charm as she has with some of the groups she’s worked over the past.” Ms. Theil’s accomplishments are even more impressive when you realize that she is getting everyday working people, blue and white collar workers, not professional dancers, to dance well. Dana admits that is “the tricky part.” Her dedication and patience make it happen. But that’s Dana, and not just with Mummers. I also saw that genuine appreciation on display when I witnessed her working with little kids getting ready to put on a Christmas recital. Dana says, “Dancing to me is a release almost. I can be in the worst mood, sad, depressed about anything, but once I get into the studio and just start teaching and they (the kids) start making me laugh, it just brings a smile to my face. You know, that’s my whole life.” The D in Dana can stand for dance. But, it also stands for D-elightful, D-edicated, in D-emand, and D-ynamite. Dana Theil is one more reason to love the Mummers.
As you enjoy your summer, so, too, do some camping friends of mine who got to enjoy MDA Summer Camp in Montgomery County. The Muscular Dystrophy Association makes the week long camping experiences available thanks to the generous donations of you and so many others. Firefighters from across the region prepare meals for the kids. Firefighters from Burlington County were on hand as I visited. Harley Davidson owners, who raise lots of money through their rides, also come to camp to give the kids rides in a sidecar. The camp is filled with fun experiences. There is the big parade in keeping with the theme of the week. This year it was games and a rainy, misty day did not deter these campers. The good folks at Lowe’s helped build and paint the floats and suits on site with the kids. But, the fundamental strength of the camp is that gives young people living with neuromuscular diseases a chance to be in an environment tailor made for them, a week where no explanations are necessary and friends are all around. The Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon unofficially ends the summer. Look for you there on myphl17.
They’re wowing Vegas, baby! Mummers rocked “America’s Got Talent” last night. Members of the South Philly Vikings, led by outstanding and upbeat Captain Pete D’Amato, performed on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” and blew the judges away, “Apocalypse”-style. The First Prize winning Fancy Brigade in the 2010 Mummers Parade, of course performed at the Pennsylvania Convention Center on New Year’s Day, but a smaller group of the mighty Brigade then entered the “America’s Got Talent” competition. They auditioned in New York and the brief performance aired last night on NBC. The judges were impressed and (out of awe…and no doubt a little fear) passed them on to Las Vegas. Family members and friends of the Vikings are excited about their Brigade’s success and wish them good luck the rest of the way and so do I. Viva Los Vikings!