Mourning in South Philadelphia

#011SouthPhiladelphiaSBClubhouseWith the start of a new year, many people look for a new beginning in some part of their lives.  This is a good thing.  Most of us do so, not with foolish optimism, but because we are good people.  We have celebrations not because we are selfish or hedonistic, but because we want to improve, to enjoy each other, enjoy the gift of life and we want to encourage that joy in others.

New Year’s Day 2019 started that way for many, many people.  The men, women and children of the Philadelphia Mummers awoke in the early morning hours to rekindle the Philadelphia folk tradition of calling on family and friends and playing together in the streets.  They shared their brilliant suits, unique sounds, silliness and satire, struts and choreography with the world.  We hail Golden Sunrise, Murray Comic Club, Quaker City String Band, South Philly Vikings, the Pirates and all the winners.  It is about competition to some degree, but it’s also about sharing the joy of life and making others smile.  In that competition on New Year’s Day, South Philadelphia String Band finished a very close second.  It was a great day.

It then feels soul-wrenching when word comes that in the hours after that joyful expression, that three young people we knew suddenly died and that another vibrant person lies critically injured.  Young people who have helped you enjoy life are in an instant gone or fighting to live.  It’s just wrong.  Why do bad things happen to good people?

Thousands of people associated with the folk tradition of Mummery are shaking their heads and asking that question.  Some are angry; others are deeply saddened and emotionally spent.  None of the answers seems good enough as we mourn the sudden passing of three good young people and pray for the recovery of another, all victims of a crime.

The emptiness, the feeling of one’s heart jumping from your chest, is incalculably magnified, more painful and intense, for the South Philadelphia String Band family and especially for the immediate family members of Joe, Kelly, Denny and Nicole.

Mummers have been making sure that the Ferry and Palandro families and their extended families have not been alone.  They will continue to stand together, to mourn together, and hopefully to aid in Nicole’s recovery.  All will struggle to try to find the answers that elude us.  If we find a functional way forward, it may begin with faith and with always remembering the passion and joy of these beautiful young people.  For now, we just are feeling lost, and it may be that way for awhile.South Philadelphia String Band with Black Ribbon 2

Happy Mu…Mu..Mummers Day!

20171231_145939Happy New Year and on this January 1st enjoy the great folk tradition and expression of people artistry and freedom, of family and friend togetherness, and respects to those who have left us.  All that and more is the 2018 SugarHouse Casino Mummers Parade.

It will be very cold.  It hasn’t been this cold for many years and precautions are urged.  But, most Mummers will handle it, dressing in layers, covering what can be covered, protecting instruments and carrying on a tradition dating back generations for many, or a relatively new experience that is both fun and personal.

received_1893955057285254(1)Mummery is fun, but it is personal.  Clubs will wear buttons or badges for those who have left us, or march with signs or props bearing their images, names or initials.  20171231_145957Some are well known to all Mummery like John Lucas or Bill Speziale.  Others are known well to the clubs.  In Mummery, each is equally important.

We also this day celebrate the ritual of noticing when someone or some club has been marching for 50, 60, 75, or 72 years(Bill Doyle).  We will also end the outdoor parade with an emotional moment involving Duffy String Band who lost Captain Ted Kudrick in October. 20171026_000642Now, 11 year old Jake and all the band will perform for Ted, and because it’s what Mummers do.  And, it’s a day fans of the Mummers, on the street or watching at home, reconnect.

FB_IMG_1514780587556(1)It’s a day we notice when Mummers raise money for cancer, or autism awareness, or our Armed Forces, or individuals like Gabby, a Mummer through and through. It’s about the children like Keegan, of Riverfront Mummers.  Does that little guy got it or what?received_10214874444484083

Thank you to our Police, Firefighters and Medical personnel, Streets crews, and City Officials that help make this possible in this day and age.

So today, try to be warm whether on the street or in front of your tv, and from Golden Sunrise, from Oregon to Froggy Carr, Goodtimers, Landi and Murray, 16 String Bands from Greater Overbrook to Duffy, and all the great Fancy Brigades in the Convention Center, please enjoy New Year’s Day and the best of the Philadelphia Mummers tradition.  It is about fun, but it’s also about a whole lot more.

We may now strut around the room.

 

Gearing Up for the Big Parade!

Mummers are warming up the night here at Liberte Lounge at the Sofitel on 17th St! And guest bartending is underway to raise money to support Foster Children. Yeah, Mums!

20 Years

Congratulations to the winners tonight of the 20th annual Delaware Valley HR awards.  I am honored again to be an emcee of this event at the Crystal Tea Room, recognizing the best of Human Resources in the Philadelphia region.

Sats Celebrate Half a Century

20171111_201610Saturnalian New Years Association celebrated 50 years in Mummery this weekend in a fun and beautiful gathering at SugarHouse Casino.  It was extraordinary going through the decades with images of the past performances and remarks by former captains like John Griffith, Dave Moscinski and John Zakrewski, and current captain, Jack Hatty, Jr. One fun fact among many with Saturnalian: It took first prize in its very first parade in the late 1960’s.  The Sats honored the living and departed members of the club and also celebrated the contributions of women members to the Fancy Brigade.20171111_214651 Josephine Thompson, a 12 year member of the Sats, led that recognition.  I am also grateful to the club for its welcoming of me to the event.  20171112_210822Saturnalian has a successful history and is again a brigade on the rise.  Here’s to the Richie Ski and all the gang going from last year’s “Gangs of New York” performance at the Pennsylvania Convention Center to a fun circus theme in the works this coming New Year’s Day.  It will be a great night for the club from 1811 S. 2nd Street.

SATS Ready to Celebrate

Captain Jack Hatty, Jr., and Dan Rudolph earlier in the week as members of the Saturnalian Fancy Brigade rehearsed at EOM in South Philadelphia. Tonight, the brigade will celebrate its 50th year. Looking forward to the event at SugarHouse.

When All Seemed Good

Still can’t believe it. Roy was a good man.