Ten thousand Mummers are ready to hit Broad Street for the annual Philadelphia Mummers Parade! The formal parade started in 1901. 01/01/11 is upon us. It’s Mum Time. Coverage on PHL17 begins at 9 a.m. The first Comics will hit City Hall sometime after 10 a.m. I will announce the major winners on the 10 pm. and 11 p.m. newscasts on PHL17 and NBC10. Members of clubs across 5 Divisions are poised to strut. Murray Comic Club is leading off, followed by Goodtimers and Landi. I see some great themes this year, some of them topical, of course. You can bet the economy is one. Thanks to Murray for all they do for the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. After the Comics comes the large Wench Brigade Division. 8 clubs take part, led by Oregon this year.
The Fancy Division sees two legendary clubs, Hog Island and Golden Sunrise.
2010 winning Captain Kenny Medeiros, of Hog Island, is doing a 1950′s theme. The Hogs are bringing it. So, too, is Matt Glovacz, Captain of Golden Sunrise, who will serve us a “Hawaiian Luau.” GS’s John Lucas took me on a tour of the suits this year and there are some great ones, many of which he built.
“Handsome costume. That is the toughest category there is on the street,” says John Lucas. I especially like the tribute to the late Jim Happold. Golden Sunrise is bringing back “Putting on the Ritz,” the suit Hap wore as GS started. The Fancies continue the tradition of beauty on Broad Street with explosions of color and majesty. These works of art are made by hand and are not the product of a big factory making blow up cartoon figures. This is unique.
The awesome string bands are particularly interesting this year because of the order of march and some rules changes in the judging which may or may not have effect. In essence, the judges will reward a little more the effect of the music and costumes. Previously, music playing had an edge over effect and some folks felt the richer bands who spent more on costuming might have had an unfair advantage. Fralinger is going up Broad Street in 2nd, behind Pennsport. I’ve seen their performance and if anyone can ake First Prize from 2nd position, the mighty Fralinger can do it. But, I’ve seen many other challengers who also look strong.
South Philadelphia Captain Denny Palandro says,”We’re doing a showboat theme this year. Our forte is props. We’re going to have the props to go with this theme. The costumes are beautiful. The music, we stepped it up a notch.”
Quaker City String Band has a truly entertaining theme and its musicians sound great. All I’m going to say is keep an eye on Captain Charlie Roetz.
Ferko String Band is looking to move up a notch to number one from last year. They think they’ve put the final pieces together in their gold rush/prospecting theme. Says Captain Anthony Celenza, ”We’re stakin’ a claim for 2011 and we’re goin for the gold.” I’ve seen Polish American looking to combine the crowd pleasing aspects of last year (They were the 1st Prize winners of the Viewer’s Choice Award.) with more power. Go down the ilist and you’ll see outstanding performances, including Avalon, Woodland and more.
“Pete D’Amato, Captain of 2010 1st Prize winner South Philly Vikings says, ”We’re looking forward to getting out there. to getting with the people, letting everybody see what we do, the whole fancy brigade and having a good time.” 9 other Fancy Brigades also look to do the same and challenge Pete and his brigade at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
As I mentioned, the annual parade formally began in 1901, but the tradition dates back to the 17th century. At its heart, Mummery is a “crazy hobby,” a way to celebrate the New Year. But, it’s become much more than that. It is a family glue, a bond in neighborhoods, a city’s goodwill ambassadorship, an economic contributor and a tourist attraction. Some Mummers clubs spend well over 100,000 dollars to entertain on New Year’s Day. For the third year in a row, they do so without getting any prize money from the city. I mention this because there have been inaccurate reports to the contrary. By the way, the prize money originated more than 100 years ago as a way of enticing the Mummers, who had been parading on their own, to agree to be run or organized on New Year’s Day by the city. All that leaves a Mummers mind in the hours ahead. New Year’s is upon us. Enjoy the spectacle! Enjoy the feast! It’s Mum time.