Show of Shows 2012

Joyful examples of the Wow factor began at the 2012 Show of Shows with Greater Kensington String Band and remained high through all 16 performances, punctuated by the show of 2012 Champion Woodland String Band.  Wowed were thousands of fans who gathered inside Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City this weekend to hear and see the men and women of the Philadelphia Mummers String Band Association in the annual Show of Shows.  I guarantee you those thousands are still smiling.

Greater Kensington, Trilby, Polish American, Broomall, Uptown, Greater Overbrook, Durning, Duffy, Aqua, Avalon, Hegeman, Fralinger, Ferko, South Philadelphia, Quaker City and 2012 Winner Woodland entertained with their New Year’s themes and more.

The Show of Shows is a more up close and personal view of the String Bands.  This year it was also the farewell performance of former 1st Prize winning Captain, Mark Danielewicz, of Polish American String Band.  Mark is stepping down after 10 years as Captain.  In an emotional moment, his father, Ray Danielewicz, himself a former Captain with P.A., announced his son’s final moments as Captain. Ray had introduced his son a decade ago when Mark’s time as Captain began.

It was great seeing Fralinger String Band Captain Thomas D’Amore, who has a rather impressive percentage of 1st Place Captain finishes with just a few years at the helm.  Fralinger also has 4 members going into the Philadelphia Mummers String Band Association Hall of Fame.

Congratulations go to all of this year’s Hall of Fame inductees:  John Wernega, Bill Garton, Warren Rivell, and Anthony Tenuto, plus, Jim Browne, Jack Dailey, John Jordan, and Ed Lynch,.

The Show of Shows is a chance for the bands to celebrate family. It’s common for little kids to take part in the performances, especially at the end, or by taking flowers to the Captain.  A good example of that is when Catherine, age 2 and a half, took flowers out to her dad, Duffy String Band Captain Ted Kudrick.

Another beautiful moment in the show was when Woodland String Band stopped to recognize one of the greatest, most dedicated Mummers of all time, Mr. Dave Anderson, Jr.  Dave started Mumming when he was 3 and has been a member of Woodland for 58 years.  He served in many positions, including Captain. He was very surprised and moved by the recognition at the Show of Shows.  Dave Anderson, the Heart and Soul of Woodland String Band.

Now, as important as all the above is, I must add, that in addition to serving as the emcee of the Show of Shows, I was asked to take part in a portion of the Durning String Band’s theme, “We’re Wheelie Motorvated.”  I was allowed to drive the race car dubbed “Speed Highsmith.”  It’s the yellow car.  I won the race despite going in circles and in the wrong direction.  I officially deny that there was any favoritism in the results.   Thank you, Durning. 

Long live the pursuit of happiness.

Mall Walking

More than 500 great citizens walked through the King of Prussia Mall this morning in the annual MDA Make A Muscle, Make A Difference Walk.  Walkers came in all combinations, including large teams.  There was the fun warm-up and when all were ready, Maddie Crowley, of Downingtown and the MDA Statewide Goodwill Ambassador, cut the gold ribbon to begin the walk through the mall.

The revenue raised by the walk will go for support services offered by the Muscular Dystrophy Association and for research into more than 40 neuromuscular diseases.

Thanks to all the walkers.  You Made A Muscle…

                                              And Made a Difference!

Butkovitz on Your Money

Philadelphia City Controller Alan Butkovitz says the reassessment of Philadelphia real estate taxes will be a tax increase for many.  In his words, “It may knock a lot of people’s socks off.”  Butkovitz says some people may see “a doubling or tripling” of real estate taxes. 

Alan Butkovitz has been the City Controller for 6 years.  In that time he has performed audits and other reviews identifying hundreds of millions of dollars in potential savings. I asked him how much mayors, council members, school administrators and others have responded to his ideas. His answer: “Hardly at all.”

Butkovitz estimates the level of waste, fraud and abuse in the Philadelphia School District is about “20 something” percent.  He believes there is “a long history in the school district of the not respecting the (budget) numbers.” Butkovitz says he would not be surprised if there were federal indictments related to some charter schools that have or are operating in the Philadelphia School District.

On the city government side, Alan Butkovitz gives Mayor Nutter, Inspector General Amy Kurland and other s “A+’s.”  He says Mayor Nutter has ended the pay to pay culture.  He does, however, think the administration may be too academic and theoretical and still has “weaknesses on the operational side.”