Nostalgia, New Kids, Apocalypse & Dynasties

Lori Wilson and Me in the Broadcast Booth

Nostalgia ruled the 2010 Comcast Mummers Parade and a changing of the guard proved reassuring for the future of Mummery. The new kids on the block, the first year captains and drill and music directors, showed they are up to taking the baton from the legends who preceeded them.  A view of the battle after Armageddon won the day and two powerful Clubs redefined the word “dynasty.”  All that and the pageantry and the music of Mummery were the 2010 Comcast Mummers Parade!

The Mummers shock-trooped the senses.  Grand Marshalls Michael and Kevin Bacon and Bunny Sigler added spice up Broad Street.  From Landi’s opening with “Time of Our Lives” through the rise of the mighty Wench Brigades to Jim Driadon and Greater Overbrook’s homage to the “Memories of the Way We Were,” the roots of Mummery were honored and the times in which we live were recognized with humor, sometimes a little edginess as Mummers can do, and with openess and honesty, sprinkled with a good measure of inspiration.

"Dancing with the Czars"

All hail the dynasty that is Murray Comic Club which grabbed a record 12th 1st Prize in a row and Captain Dennis Pellegrino has now captured his 8th 1st Prize. Dennis’ “Mummers on Mars” was not only fun but the rocket ship was well thought out and its landing and take-off very effective. The club’s “Dancing with the Czars” took 1st Prize Brigade.  Goodtimers did nicely in the float category, a 2nd, with “O’s Dozer” and a great 3rd in the Brigade’s with “Field of Dreams.” Harry Kalas is smiling.  Congratulations to the Laing family in Landi for taking 1st Prize float.

Jetson's Theme

They did so with the excellent “The Jetson’s Zooming In The New Year.”  The oversized likenesses were really cool.

1st Prize in the Wench Brigade Division goes to Bryson Brigade and Eddie “Gootch” Bryson gets top Captain. Bryson Brigade has been marching since the 1970’s and sprouted a good win with the theme, “Pops Secret Garden Goin’ Green.” The garden headgear was righteous.

Mr. Detail reigned surpeme again in the Fancy Division. Kenny Medeiros won 1st Prize Captain with his “Barnyard Boogie.” The man who started with Lobster NYB is swimming in butter. Fine performance, Mr. Detail. Congratulations to Mandy and friends making their debut and finishing 2nd in the Fancy Trio category with “Polynesian Tiki Gods.” In Handsome Trim, “Guardian of the Crown” took 1st. Smooth performance, Jesse.

"The Old West Saloon"

While Golden Sunrise finished second to Hog Island, there were some outstanding moments for GS. The first and most emotional to fans was witnessing John Lucas reprise his former role as Captain for the 30th time and on the 50th anniversary of the club. In a magnanimous gesture at the clubhouse a couple of nights earlier, current Captain Matt Glovacs asked John to take the helm one more time. The club can also be proud of its many presentations, especially capturing the top three prizes in the Handsome Costume Category. 


That includes Jacky Bam Bam’s igniting 1st Prize performance of “Firestarter.” Third place Oregon Fancy Club’s Handsome Costume entries, “Wicked” and “Dancing with the Stars” were excellent and finished high, as did “Bye Bye Blackbird” in Handsome Trim. In the String Band Division, nostalgia did very well.

"Feudin', Fussin' & Fightin'"

They have owned the 21st Century.  Fralinger showed what successful organizations do: they remain strong even in transition. 8 1st Prizes in a row now for Fralinger for its Hatfield and McCoy-like theme. With Bill Bowen, Jr., and Mike Rayer stepping aside from Captain and Presentation Director positions, who knew what could happen?  Well, co-directors Jack Mills and Joe Ferry showed what can happen, as did Captain Thomas D’Amore.  And Thomas put an exclamation point on it when he also took 1st Prize Captain. Respect should also go to music arranger John Wernega, who for 9 years in a row now has taken first in the judging category of music effect.

Congratulations to Charlie Roetz for a 2nd place finish the year after he took 1st prize. Denny Palandro and Jack Hee and all the rest performed excellently. Jim Tatar, Jr., of Greater Kensington may have tried the toughest routine of the night and showed us some moves we’ve never seen before. Ryan Radcliffe and all the new Captains enhanced their band’s performances.  Even the “Old Heads” were on their game, among them Pete Broomall who was as energetic and multi-faceted as ever.  Aqua and Ron Iannacone were awesome as were John Baron and Hegeman.  Durning was hilarious.  84-year-old Jimmy Buck was a sight to see in “Good Clean Fun.”

Still, the competition was tight. Less than 2 points separated Fralinger from 3rd Place Quaker City. Ferko, led by Anthony Celenza, on an upward trend, finished a strong second with its nostalgic hobo theme. Quaker City also performed at a QC level, handling a serious, respectful Spanish theme with precision. Charlie Roetz sold that fountain scene. It’s a positive memory that will last. Just another note, among many I could do with each band, and this note concerns Polish American String Band. Polish American finished 7th in the official judging and while that is a good spot, I think more recognition should be given to P-A’s outstanding execution of “Joker’s Ball” which they did in the spirit of a generation ago.

And this word: The winner of the annual Custard’s Last Stand Award is…Quaker City String Band with “Mums of La Mancha.”

In the Fancy Brigade Division, two powerhouses ruled: South Philly Vikings takes 1st Prize Brigade and Shooting Stars Captain Mickey Adams, takes 1st Prize Captain. Mickey has been doing this for some 20 years as Captain with a lot of wins in those years. For the Brigades, it was a tigh race, especially between 2nd and 3rd in the Captain’s category.  Jack Hatty of Saturnalians got the nod by one point over Pete D’Amato of the Vikings.  In the overall Brigades category, the Vikes won by a point and a half over Shooting Stars.  South Philly Vikings’ vision of a post-apocalyptic Washington, D.C., was powerful.  The human race will be safe if the Vikings are in charge.

Thanks to all who hit the street on New Year’s Day!

14 Responses

  1. Hello, Steve. We are Expat Pennsylvanians living in SE Virginia and very happy to have seen the WGN broadcast of the 2010 Mummers Parade. We began recalling our memories of the parade from the mid-60s thru 70’s with our kids, and felt the performance of the Polish American String Band came closest to reflecting those memories. We were telling our kids that this is what a Mummers Band really looked and sounded like. As you can guess by that statement, we’re not too thrilled with the “skits” and props that many of the other bands presented: much to the determent of the music and strutting, at least in our opinion. Any reason how or why the brigades have moved towards these more theatrical/prop-filled performances? We just don’t remember this style…what we remember is the strutting, the music, and unique mummer-marching up Broad. The Polish American performance reflected what we fondly remember of this parade; wish it would return to this style of holiday entertainment. Thanks again for bringing a bit of home to us in 2010.

    • Lots of folks like the nostalgic themes and presentations. The move to more “Broadway-like” shows started more than a decade ago with the Fancy Brigades and then some of the String Bands, seeing an opportunity to gain more points in the production/presentation categories, picked up from there. There’s no question they are good shows, but there are many people who believe something can also be lost. The response the public has given to P-A’s performance is proof of that. Ideally, there could be room for both, but the judging would have to reflect that.

      • Hi Steve:

        Let me start off by saying you are truly a great representative for the Mummers. Your knowledge of the parade and its history as well as your Parade Day coverage and announcing is top notch!

        I believe that in order for positive change to occur the String Band Association must step in and limit the number of huge props and number of saxophones used by the top bands. Judges are losing site of what a string band is supposed to sound like. Now, all we hear is volume. How bout limiting the number of saxes to 30 (instead of the 45 that Fralinger boasts for instance). This would add in the necessary amount of violins, bells, accordians, drums and banjos -all vital instruments that make up the sound of a Philadelphia string band-now that’s a tradition! I’d like to see return. Then, other bands would have a chance to capture that now-elusive championship banner!

      • Thought-provoking, Mike, very thought-provoking. Thanks for your comments and for appreciating the Mummers.

      • Anytime Steve-been a fan of the string bands for many, many years and think we need to get back to more of a “mixed” sound!
        Happy New Year!

  2. Hi Steve,

    I justed finished viewing, in Saint Louis, Missouri, your Mummer’s Parade two-hour program on Channel 23. Thank you for making some of the parade available to those of us not in the Philly area.

    I definitely agree, P-A’s ” Joker’s Ball” was outstanding.
    Should have been Number One !

    I am an old-time traditionist – viewing the parade from the large front window of my Aunt and Uncle’s home on Broad Street during the 1950s and prior to the start of the parade, watching participants past in front of my Eight and Moyamensing Avenue home.

    P-A’s performance was the very best of the String Band tradition – they deserved a better rating.

    Don Rocco

    PS – A forty-two year resident of St. Louis,
    who visits Philly and Cape May freqently.
    Spent an enjoyable weekday evening
    listening and watching the Ferko String
    Band at the Mummers’ Museum in 2008.

  3. Hi Steve, I really enjoyed the 2 hours of the String Bands. I have to say, the sound quality and camara work are very much improved since I started campaigning to get the Mummers on national TV in January 2001. The Mummers clubs have worked hard to tighten up the march up Broad Street and this should help inprove the possibility of national TV coverage of the complete parade.

  4. Hi Steve,

    I love watching the parade every year and I think you do a great job. However, I only ever get to view the comics and wench brigades before I move down to 2nd street to join the party every year. This leaves me missing the two most entertaing aspects the string bands and the fancy brigades I was wondering why the parade is never put on demand? I think that many people would like to view the parade after the fact, espeacially after the results come out. With comcast being the main sponsor this year I was even more shocked by this. If comcast continues thier sponsorship next year ( and hopefully they will) I think you should suggest that they put it on demand for atleast a little anyway!

    Thanks Steve!
    Happy New Year and I’ll see you at the show of shows!!

    P.S. Do you know of any future viewings of the fancy brigades if any??

    • No other plans for rebroadcasts but the on-demand idea is a good one. I’ll look into it.

      • Happy New Year Steve! you do a great job with the parade hope you continue! I run the happytappers website and was wondering if there was a video that maybe channel
        17 has of our performance at city hall.

      • We’ll look and see if we can post some. The folks that do that are occupied with some other duties right now, but as soon as we’re able we’ll try to post.

  5. Moved to Delaware almost 20 years ago from New York. Absolutely blown away by the string bands and the talent of a bunch of “neighborhood guys.” Amazed at how many people in this area don’t realize what a tremendous asset the Mummers’ Parade is. And shame on the city for not doing everything possible to preserve it.

    Attend most years, but also record the WPHL telecast. Love the coverage and the insight provided.

    Decades ago, parade was actually telecast in Baltimore when string bands were primarily banjos and feathers — at least to a kid — and find current performances much more interesting. But agree Polish American’s was a spectacular blend of tradition and current string band talents.

  6. I think I’ll try to give Ed a call and maybe we can do a longer story about him. That would be nice.

    • thank you steve, I appreciate on what you do to make this parade happen, you truly are a friend of all mummers. I hope to see you many years to come.

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