Order’s Up!

We know the Order of March for the string bands in the 2011 Comcast Mummers Parade!  Representatives of the String Bands met Tuesday night at the Mummers Museum and took part in the selection of positions.  The upshot? Fralinger is going early for the first time in a long time, South Philadelphia, too, Ferko goes up last again, there’s a good mix of strong and not as strong bands spread throughout the parade, and Duffy and Greater Overbrook get spots near the end.

Here’s the order:

1. Pennsport

2. Fralinger

3. Woodland

4. Broomall

5.  South Philadelphia

6. Durning

7. Irish American

8. Greater Kensington

9. Aqua

10. Polish American

11. Trilby

12. Uptown

13. Hegeman

14. Duffy

15. Quaker City

16. Avalon

17. Greater Overbrook

18. Ferko

How the order was determined was changed this year to make any starting position in the parade more one of chance.  Generally, band members believe going earlier in the parade lessens the chance of a good finish in the judging and going later increases the chance of finishing higher up.   Some felt the recent selection process, which allowed higher finishing bands to bunch for the most part in the last half  of the marching order, contributed to some bands continuing strong performances in the judging.  One thing is clear: After the selections Tuesday night, some bands who often saw themselves going up among the first few bands, now are energized, pumped that they get a chance to perform later in the parade.  All eyes will be watching to see how defending champion Fralinger responds to the challenge.

One to Watch in Pennsylvania

Photo courtesy Fitzpatrick campaign

Former Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick wants his job back.   Fitzpatrick today announced he is offically running for Congress in Pennsylvania’s 8th Congressional District.   He was defeated in 2006 by just 1500 votes in the backlash against Republicans by Democratic newcomer Patrick Murphy.  Murphy, an early Barack Obama supporter, won re-election in 2008. 

Standing near St. Mary Medical Center, Fitzpatrick today said that the colon cancer he was treated for in 2008 is in remission.   He says he’s back in the race because, “I cannot sit back any longer and watch what is happening to our country.”

The 8th District is all of Bucks County and small slices of Northeast Philadelphia and Montgomery County.   Members of both major parties have held the job in the district in the last 30 years.   Fitzpatrick’s predecessor, Republican Jim Greenwood, was seen as moderate or liberal on most social issues.  Fitzpatrick has gotten praise from environmentalists but is pro-life.  Bucks County has long been viewed as mostly Republican on the local and county level, but Democratic registration surpassed Republican registration in 2008.  However, Democrats or independents who would vote Democratic did not turn out for Democrats in November of 2009 in the biggest county race, that for district attorney. 

This is a race to watch for those reasons and more.  Fitzpatrick and Murphy means that two well-known figures would be pitted against each other.  (More than half a dozen members of Congress who lost in 2006 are considering rematches.)   This assumes for the moment that Fitzpatrick wins the GOP primary.  As recently as two weeks before Fitzpatrick’s  announcement, 9 other Republicans had announced for the job.   But, now Fitzpatrick is the automatic front-runner among Republicans.  It will be interesting to watch how the tea party movement, which has strength in the district, will respond to him. 

Photo courtesy Murphy campaign

If that is the general election match, Republicans will also try to make Murphy  a referendum about President Obama.  Democrats note that Murphy, an Iraq War veteran, plays well with some conservative constituencies and has made connections within the district in his 2 terms in office.  Critics of Fitzpatrick say he ran a poor campaign in ’06 and if he repeats that kind of thinking, he could be in trouble.  Supporters say that won’t happen and they believe the political climate favors Fitzpatrick.  Supporters of Murphy say November is still a long way away and they add, when it comes to campaigning, Murphy is no Martha Coakley.  Definitely, a race to watch.

The Life “Aqua”

“Life” is beginning to settle back into a routine now that the 2010 Comcast Mummers Parade is a little farther in the rear view mirror, but the memories of the great moments in the parade and the wonderful participants will always remain strong.
I asked Aqua String Band Captain Ron Iannacone to share his thoughts with me about what it was like on New Year’s Day as Captain and strutting up Broad Street to City Hall with his band.  He says, “My favorite part (of this year’s presentation) was the creation of the Cat Clock and hearing the crowd reaction.  I smiled when I heard Jake’s (Jake Hart) comment that every grandmother had that hanging in their house and it is true.  The inspiration was the very same clock that hung in my Grandmother’s kitchen in South Philadelphia.  It represented what we should aim for as a String Band, simple, effective, and memorable.”

“As I stand facing my band immediately before the whistle blows,” says Ron, “I try to make eye contact with as many of my bandmates as possible. I smile at them and let them know how proud I am to stand with them.  It is a sense of pure adrenaline and pure passion knowing that for the next 4 minutes I will do what I truly love.  All I keep thinking is “Blow the whistle! I want the world to see who we are!”  As we turn City Hall, I make it a point to go to each member, shake their hand, thank them, and wish them a Happy New Year.  I honestly miss seeing bands doing that at what used to be the old starting line.”
Aqua finished a strong 8th in the myphl17 Viewers Choice Poll.  Captain Iannacone praises his bandmates.  “Aqua is very proud of its performance.  We scored more points in 2010 then we have in at least 13 years.  We improved 3 places over the previous year. We improved by over 18 points (Ferko improved by 6 points and that was the second best overall improvement).  We were awarded 2nd Prize at the Union League, and we came in 7th in costume.  (It) reflects our hard work and rebuilding efforts over the past two years.  We recognize that from a performance standpoint there is tremendous room for improvement, and we need to fine tune and refine many aspects of our music and production – but for the moment Band morale is quite high, and we will enjoy the next few days.”
He continues, “Everyone in our Band deserves special mention because they work so hard.  But we would like to acknowledge and thank Ky Reed for years years of service and dedication not just to Aqua, but all of Mummery.  Also, our President Mike Riddle, our Drill Master Patrick Farrell, our Music Director Ed Fetscher and our AMAZING team of marshals are the keys to the Band’s growth and improvement.”

Sentiments shared by most Captains on and after New Year’s Day.  Thanks, Ron Iannacone and Aqua!



I spoke briefly today to Philadelphia 76er Samuel Dalembert, who is from Haiti.  The worry and concern for his relatives, friends and the people of Haiti was very evident in his face and his words.  He and the Sixers are encouraging people to help in any way they can to save lives and give hope to the victims of the earthquake.  You can find more information on how to help at dalembertfoundation.org.

Singing for an SMA Solution!


In the Allentown area Saturday afternoon, January 9th, swing by the Crocodile Rock Cafe  to hear some great music, meet great people and help speed research for treatments and a cure for Spinal Muscular Atrophy.

Alexa Dectis will be performing her first concert.  She has cut a CD and like the CD, proceeds from the event will go to SMA research.  Other performers are on the bill, too.  Among them, Sarah Solovay, Outside the Box and the Scott Marshall Band.  The Crocodile Rock Cafe is at 520 Hamilton Street in Allentown.  Tickets are $12  at the door.  Show time is 3pm.  So “Rock to Walk!” 

Alexa notes that if you cannot make the concert, you can still help by sending a contribution to:

                      Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA)  

                                        c/o Alexa Dectis

                                        450 Harrison Street

                                        Allentown, PA  18103 


Gerlach Wants to Keep His Job

U.S. Representative Jim Gerlach (R-Chester County), who yesterday announced he was withdrawing from the race for the Republican nomination for Pennsylvania Governor, today says he will seek-re-election to Congress.  That has some Republicans disturbed because they either wanted or began lining up behind other candidates when they thought Gerlach was not going to run again. Some other Republicans, however, are pleased because they feel it is their best chance to hold on to the seat.  Democrat Doug Pike says it doesn’t matter to him and that he was running against Gerlach all along.  The sixth district, a mix of rural, suburban and urban, is outside Philadelphia and is closely divided among Democrats and Republicans.

Gerlach Out

Breaking News…Congressman Jim Gerlach, citing the expensiveness of the race, has withdrawn from the Republican nomination for Governor in Pennsylvania.  This leaves the establishment favorite, state Attorney General Tom Corbett and the conservative state representative Sam Rohrer going for the Republican nomination.  We’ll see if Gerlach’s departure…he is a moderate Republican in the Tom Ridge mold…boosts Corbett or gives Rohrer a sharper sword in a more defined race as conservatives try to take firmer control of the party.