Preventing Heroin Addiction

Most drug addicts are good people with a bad problem.  Some of our veterans are trying to deal with this problem and we have to ask whether we are helping.  About 1 in 4 people who use heroin become addicted to it.  Most heroin available today is purer than it was in the 1980’s.  While heroin has been a problem for some time, it has taken on new dimensions in the last decade.  I spoke today for an upcoming show of PHL17’s “In Focus” with Scott Sarafini and Christie Wentz of Drug Free Pennsylvania.image001  The increased used in the last decade of prescription painkillers like Oxycontin have led to an increase in heroin use.  People hooked on painkillers are demanding purer heroin and are going to it because it is available and cheaper, about 8 to 10 dollars a hit.  The death of Phillip Seymour Hoffman is a reminder that addicts are folks in their 40’s and 50’s, even seniors, as well as young people.  Drug Free Pennsylvania provides free, 90-minute seminars for parents to outline the heroin and overall drug problem and prevention steps.  A place of worship or a school or a community center can arrange a seminar.  They also provide services to employers.  You can contact them at straighttalkforparents.org or 1-800-533-3394.  The “In Focus” program on heroin runs Saturday morning, March 8th, at 6:30.

Hall of Fame: Fran Casper

IMG_20140222_202930_13911 Fancy Brigades and leaders from other Mummers divisions this weekend stood and applauded Saturnalian NYA President Fran Casper.  If you want to know a Mummer, catch up to Casper.  Franny lives up to the best of Mummery, including dedication, family and a love of the tradition of this people powered hobby.

Mr. Casper has been a mainstay of Saturnalian since 2001.  He got started with another Brigade, the Jokers, in 1973.  The next year he joined the Merry Makers and remained with them until 1996.  He took a break from Mummery, but joined the “Sats” in 2001.  His brother, Tommy, was the Captain.  Franny’s commitment was obvious from the start, however, and by 2004, he had been elected president of Saturnalian. 10 years later, he is still president.

Fran Casper was inducted this weekend into the Fancy Brigade Hall of Fame.  Current Saturnalian Captain, Jack Hatty, Jr., delivered the induction speech describing Fran at the annual Fancy Brigade banquet .  He called Fran proud and selfless, a competitor and a doer.  “Not one time since I have known him, has he put himself over the club,” said Jack.  Fran’s leadership is all the more inspirational because of physical challenges he’s been working through the past few years.  Hatty added, “He is still the glue that keeps the club together and the president that pushes each of us to be a better member. That is the mark of a leader.”

Congratulations to Hall of Famer Fran Casper and to the members of the Jokers, the Merry Makers and especially, the members of Saturnalian NYA.

New President

Tom Loomis of Woodland String Band was elected tonight to be President of the Philadelphia Mummers String Band Association. He replaces Marty Good who did not seek reelection. The meeting of the 16 association bands happened at the Avalon SB clubhouse.

2015 String Band Order of Enjoyment

Here’s something to crow about.  The String Band order of March.   2014IMG_20140101_151519_118It’s been a busy few days as members of the Philadelphia Mummers String Bands debate within their clubs how to approach their themes and production costs for the 2015 SugarHouse Casino Mummers Parade.  They’ve had nearly a week to digest the official Order of March, or Enjoyment as I say.  (See Order below.)  The order was chosen by lot at the Mummers Museum. Traditionally, most bands view going up early in the order as a disadvantage in terms of judging.  The judges work hard to make sure that they are not under-weighting early performers, but the general belief persists among string band members that going early hurts your finishing position.  Most of the results seem to support that belief, but you have to remember that through much of parade history many of the power bands, or bands that finished higher in the previous year, used to have more say as to what position that they marched in. They usually chose the back half of the division.  Also, I found very gratifying in  the 2014 SugarHouse Casino Mummers Parade the effort in production, rehearsal and parade day performance of bands that went up in the first several positions but looked at doing so as a positive challenge and as a test of professionalism.  Those bands, from Woodland going up first to South Philadelphia marching in 8th position, were outstanding.2014aIMG_20140101_153411_769

So, below is the 2015 Order of Enjoyment.  No themes are public yet.  But, the past week has been full of string band members assessing their chances and trying to figure out how to play the order to their advantage.

  2015 String Band Division Order of March1.  Uptown
2.  Greater Overbrook
3.  Duffy
4.  Durning
5.  Trilby
6.  South Philadelphia
7.  Aqua
8.  Greater Kensington
9.  Fralinger
10. Polish American
11. Broomall
12. Quaker City
13. Woodland
14. Pennsport
15. Avalon
16. Hegemen
17. Ferko