Another Mummer has entered the world. Hannah Adalyn Becica was born today. She arrived weighing 7 pounds and looking quite cute. Mother Katie and Father Ivo are doing just fine. Katie’s Mom, Joan Murray, is ecstatic. Congratulations to the Becica family, the Murray family, the Wild Rovers, and the Murray Comic Club Family. All know, too, that Joan’s late husband, Jerry Murray, is smiling from above and they wish he were here so they could see him enjoy his grandchild and glow about his daughter, Katie, and son-in-law, Ivo. Jerry left us a little over two years ago, shortly after the parade in 2009. His “Wild Rovers” have carried on on Broad Street, remembering him all the way and his family have done him proud. Congratulations to Jerry’s sisters, Maryanne and Marjorie, and brother, Joe. And, of course, there is cousin, Lynn, who is already planning how to spoil baby Hannah. This is a good day.
I struggled in the last 24 hours over what to say about Sunday night. The reason is because I became part of what I was writing about. I usually try to avoid that. But this is different. The annual Philadelphia Mummers String Band Association Awards Banquet took place at the Union League in Center City, Philadelphia. Nearly 500 people were on hand, mostly from 16 String Band Clubs, but also there were Congressman Bob Brady, Philadelphia Deputy Recreation Commissioner Leo Dignam and others, including representatives from other divisions in Mummery, the grand Philadelphia tradition of music, costume, entertainment, fun, family, community and freedom.
Recognition was bestowed on the bands and captains who performed on New Year’s Day, especially the top finishers, Quaker City String Band and Polish American String Band Captain Mark Danielewicz. New officers were introduced and began their year of official duties, led by new President of the String Band
Association, Marty Good. Farewell and deep thanks were extended to Mr. John Pignotti, who served as President for 12 years. Also that evening, several people were admitted into the Philadelphia Mummers String Band Association Hall of Fame. First to be inducted was the late Jim Jaep, formerly of Quaker City, Greater Overbrook and South Philadelphia String Band, a former Philadelphia Park Police mounted police officer, a great musician and arranger, a great teacher and a great father. His son, Mike, accepted. Wayne Boyd, of Quaker City String Band, has now been inducted. The words dedication, reliability and loyalty are synonymous with Wayne Boyd. Jim Tater, Sr., entered the Hall Sunday night. Jim started as a drummer with Greater Kensington String Band and has worked in the Association. He is one of the organizers of the original Mayfair/ Holmesburg Thanksgiving Day Parade. Jerry Crompton, of Avalon String Band for nearly 30 years and several bands before that, followed Jim into the Hall of Fame. Musician and mentor come to mind with Jerry. Next was Marty Good, the new President and a Mummer for decades mostly with two bands, Quaker City now, and previously Ferko String Band. History was made Sunday night. The first two women are now admitted into the Hall of Fame.
Cheryl Crowe and Peggy Rullo, both of Duffy String Band, were inducted. The daughters of the late Henry Kunzig have served not only to sustain and improve their own band, but also have long lifted the performance of other clubs. Cheryl is now the Sgt. At Arms of the Association. Peg is getting ready for her 37th strut up Broad Street.
The String Band Association then surprised me. Stunned me, really. In nearly 20 years of broadcasting the Mummers I have witnessed the respect shown others by the Association and by individual clubs. I see the charity work and the family and community togetherness they engender. But, I did not expect this. I am now a members of the Philadelphia Mummers String Band Association Hall of Fame. In the 55 years since the Hall of Fame was established only 3 people not a member of a club have been inducted. Mr. Joseph Brogan and Congressman Robert Brady preceded me. Though I have not been a member of any one club, I feel a part of every one and of every man, woman and child who heads up the street. Thank you.
Please enjoy some of the photos I took at the Philadelphia Mummers String Band Association Awards Banquet.
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.