Ian Jerry

Very sad moment. Attending the viewing tonight for Ian Jerry, Sr. , at Galzerano Funeral Home in Northeast Philadelphia. Ian was most recently a member of Polish American String Band. The band is here tonight to serenade and support the family. Stephanie and the kids will always have a large Mummers family to lean on. Members of other clubs are filing through the home, remembering Ian’s humor and regretting that he was taken at so young an age. 

The Winners of the Viewers’ Choice Awards!

It’s the people poll and the people have now spoken. The viewers of the 2015 SugarHouse Casino Mummers Parade have chosen the best String Band and best Fancy Brigade performing on New Year’s Day, 2015.


QuakerCity2mummers-photo-2015-25The big junkyard dog should get an extra treat tonight. The number 1 String Band is Quaker City String Band with its theme “One Man’s Trash is This Band’s Treasure.”

Congratulations to club President Harry Brown, Jr. and to Captain Jimmy Good. QuakerCitymummers-photo-2015-32

Quaker’s excellent music, busy scrap yard, great performance by Captain Good, interesting mirror effect, and of course, the big hug of Scraps the dog at the end, wowed the audience.

Polish American String Band came in second in the Viewers’ Choice voting.   Fralinger String Band, which won the official judging on New Year’s Day, finished in the top five in the poll.


shooting-stars-fancy-brigade-2015-mummers-parade-photos-0987The number 1 Fancy Brigade in the Viewers’ Choice poll: Bill McIntyre’s Shooting Stars and its theme, “The Mysterious Island” shooting-stars-fancy-brigade-2015-mummers-parade-photos-1047with its big green spider, plant people, amazing full but fluid costumes, well executed choreography and a big scary bird finished first in the poll.

The Stars finished 2nd in the official judging on New Year’s Day, but first in the eyes of the viewers.  Congratulations to Bill McIntyre’s Shooting Stars Captain Michael Adams and President Brian Smith.

South Philly Vikings, which took first in the official judging, finishes 2nd in the VC poll.

SugarHouse Casino General Manager Wendy Hamilton and PHL17 Senior Vice-President and GM Vince Giannini tonight at the casino in Fishtown announced the results of the voting which involved many thousands of votes cast.

Fancy Brigade Serenade 2015

SPVJan2015A fun time was had by all at 11th and Moore in South Philadelphia Saturday night as Mummers filed by and filled the sidewalks paying respects to the 2015 SugarHouse Casino Mummers Parade Fancy Brigade Champion South Philly Vikings.  Congratulations to Captain Pete D’Amato and all in SPV.PeteSPVJan2015


It was great seeing and hearing Ferko, Polish American, Woodland, Quaker City, Fralinger, Saturnalian, the Stars, Satin Slipper,SpartansJan2015SPVserenade the Spartans(thanks for the pic, ladies!), and more in a warm moment among the competitors of New Year’s Day.



And, Jessica Tursi, of the Vikings, came on over to me and let me know the newest Soup Day champ already has a plan for this December’s competition at the Mummers Museum.  So, soup chefs, it’s never to early to warm that stove.

Beware the effect of Mummers TV! …or This Kid’s Gone Adorably Mum Crazy

Perhaps MummersTV should come with a warning label.  Mummers fans living in the Philadelphia area know that for weeks PHL17 has been airing old Mummers Parades and recently added the 2015 SugarHouse Casino Mummers Parade to the on-air rotation. Well, thanks to mom Heather Lucas-Wolfinger we now have visual evidence of what that does to impressionable minds.

Check out this video of young James Wolfinger, Jr., armed with homemade costume and toy saxophone, as he watches the parade and repeatedly, watches his Dad perform with the 1st Prize winning Fralinger String Band.

So this is how it all can begin…



Viewer’s Choice Finalists Announced

MUMMERS_ROWThe finalists in the 2015 SugarHouse Casino/PHL17 Viewer’s Choice Poll have been announced and SugarHouse is also planning on handing out thousands of dollars to some lucky Mummers clubs Tuesday night, January 20th, at 6:30 p.m.!  Here’s what we know.


The 5 finalists in the Fancy Brigades are, in alphabetical order:


Bill McIntyre’s Shooting Stars

Satin Slipper

South Philly Vikings


The 5 finalists in the String Band Division are, in alphabetical order:



Polish American

Quaker City

South Philadelphia

Sugar House 2011The winner of each of the two divisions will be announced Tuesday evening, January 20th, at SugarHouse.

Each will receive the big Viewer’s Choice trophy and a check from SugarHouse for $1,000.

In addition, each of three lucky “mother” clubs across the 5 divisions will be the recipient of $1,000.  To be eligible for those 3 drawings of $1,ooo, a club member has to show up at the Casino and report in at The Refinery area.  Say what club you are with.  The winning clubs will be drawn during the announcement ceremony.

So, the people’s voice will be heard Tuesday night and a total of $5,000 will be handed out to Mummers clubs.  It’s going to be a good night.  Mummers are asked to arrive at 6:30.  Make sure you check in and let them know what club you represent.

Good luck to the finalists and thanks to all Mummers for a great parade.



Eat and drink for Joey

Joey Weissinger_1076In yet another example of Mummers being there when someone is in need, Riverfront New Year’s Association is holding a fundraising event this Saturday night, January 10th.
Stop by the club and enjoy food, drink and good times and help raise funds for Joey Weissinger.
Everybody’s welcome.  Joey is in need of a kidney transplant and this will help with a lot of costs.   Have fun and help Joey and his family, this Saturday night.The charge  is 25 dollars to enter between 7 and 11.

Heritage Division Poll Results

IMG_20120414_222909The results have been consistent since I posted the idea of a Heritage Division.  80-percent of the respondents to the question said they like the idea.

Heritage is a part of all Mummery, of course, but the ideas behind the proposed Heritage Division include celebrating historical or traditional aspects of Mummery, and perhaps involving several clubs that could use a break from the intense annual financial commitment.  This is not a welfare state proposal.   If a club has no support, that’s not what we’re talking about.  The presentation time would also have to be different in some cases, in order not to lengthen the parade.

There would be many details to work out, but it’s pretty clear, more discussion would be a good idea.  Perhaps the leaders of the various divisions or their appointed representatives would like to meet at the Mummers Museum this month to explore some of these.  I’d be happy to help moderate such a discussion.


Heritage Division (Poll results update)

MUMMERS_ROWIt’s time for a Heritage Division. The Mummers Parade has historically had 2 to 5 divisions. Currently they are the Comics, the Fancy, the Wench Brigade, String Band and Fancy Brigade. Let’s postulate that it’s time to create a new division that does NOT add to the length of the parade, but which preserves the historical significance of the parade, allows some clubs an opportunity to have a less financially stressful year and gives the public more of what they want.  There’s a poll question for your input below. UPDATE: Poll results so far are 78 percent in favor of the idea; 22 percent opposed.)

The 21st Century has brought with it financial stresses, city regulations or goals, changing ideas of entertainment, and a new reality of how busy families are, including multiple jobs and how far apart we live from each other. Parts of Mummery, contrary to other media reports, are growing.  However, some other displays, especially ones that require people spending a lot of their own money, are crunched.

The City of Philadelphia definitely does not want the Mummers to assemble as they did in the 1800’s. It wants to contain the excesses that were problems before the creation of the Broad Street parade.  Most officials do not want to get in the way of the freedom to assemble and they see the tourism value.  Most Mummers, too, like the idea of parading on Broad Street, being at the Hall, and giving a show for all on New Year’s Day.  But, some clubs have been living on the edge of existence, and outside influences, or stresses, are major reasons why. So, what is a non-corporate, people parade to do?

Here’s a starter idea for discussion. Create a Heritage Division of 3 to 10 clubs each year. The clubs in this division would not have to field as many entries and the rules about their size would be adjusted. The time of their performances could also be shortened. They might not even be judged, though a different judging system could be worked out. The Clubs in this division would revel in the history of the parade.  Yes, we’d see feathers and back pieces and more.  We might be able to start a fundraising effort in conjunction with the Museum, in which part of the proceeds would go to the clubs in this new division.

Fralingerspinningbanjo2015-mummers-parade-6378So, how would it have looked on this New Year’s Day?

Maybe Trilby String Band would have fielded a band if it did not need 40 players and did not have to create a Broadway routine.

Maybe another string band or 2 would liked to have saved money for a year and volunteered to be in the division.

Maybe the String Band Association holds a lottery, if there are no bands volunteering, though I think some bands would love to live in this division.

Maybe a brigade from Murray or Goodtimers volunteers to go in.

Maybe Hog Island believes it could return to the Fancy Heritage, if some adjustments were made.

Golden Sunrise could take up permanent residency there, preserving the Fancy within Mummery.

A big wench brigade could take a year in there.

Maybe a Fancy Brigade even takes a turn.

Maybe we have a youth band.

Maybe we have the Hardly Ables.

Maybe there is an open opportunity for a new club to try the parade, allowing new voices to experience Mummery.

Maybe BrassBands2015-mummers-parade-5860a new club in a division first would have to march in the Heritage Division for a year.

Maybe a guest string band from another state comes in.

Maybe a brass band rocks the house for 2 minutes.

Maybe none of the clubs or divisions mentioned above would want anything to do with this proposed Heritage Division, but, I think it’s worth talking about.  This is not about artificially propping up unsupported clubs.  Clubs have always come and gone in Mummery and that will continue.  But, the Mummers exist in a manufactured world where imposed rules affect their existence.  This Heritage Division idea is aimed at supporting positive tradition and cultural significance.

Whether it would be 3 clubs or 10, whether they march all at once in line or are sprinkled throughout the parade, whether they only appear on tv or do the whole route, the idea is to ease financial pressure, keep the parade flowing, and retain and enrich the historical display of this great Philadelphia folk tradition.

Please take part in the poll below and give me your opinion.

Here’s to Freedom: The 2015 SugarHouse Casino Mummers Parade

BrainMeandJennifer2015-mummers-parade-5598It was fun, rowdy and real, exciting and exquisite, powerful and pulsating. Congratulations to the thousands of Mummers in dozens of clubs who again enthusiastically launched 2015 in the Philadelphia tradition of the New Year’s Mummers and Shooters!  My thanks to Brian Taff, Jennifer Lewis-Hall, Pierre Robert, Jake Hart, Sarah Bloomquist, Alicia Vitarelli, Sharrie Williams, Zachery Lashway and David Grzybowski.

Most of the talk has been centered on who won the prizes in the 5 major divisions and on just how great the 2015 SugarHouse Casino Mummers Parade was. It was also a day of ties. More on that shortly.

BrassBands2015-mummers-parade-5860But, another big topic among Mummers during and since the parade is the new parade route. Mummers were divided over the route before the parade and there is still disagreement today. There are many people pleased with it; others not so much. City officials overall declare it a success. Crowds were strong in most places on a cold day. However, those who said the parade should take place at least south of Snyder seem unchanged in terms of what they ideally would like, though many of them are obviously willing to give the route a chance. There clearly will be discussion about other adjustments in staging and what happens along the parade route. The city will be asked to consider adding a performance area at Pine Street. There was one point in the parade when the flow briefly stalled. Many comics also complain about confusion in pre-parade staging and about standing in the cold for a long period of time. Backers of the new route said making adjustments is something they knew would happen and are a not a sign that the route won’t work going forward. There will be talk about how to improve the pre-parade staging and they’ll look at the north and south flow of the first half of the parade as the wenches moved into position.

Fralingerlights2015-mummers-parade-6398Now, to what matters more, recognizing the parade itself. Congratulations to Fralingerspinningbanjo2015-mummers-parade-6378Fralinger String Band for taking First Prize in the String Band Division. The “Transformational”, electrifying win is the band’s 10th since 2003 and comes on the 100th anniversary of the band’s first parade. Fralinger this New Year’s Day took first place in the judge’s eyes in general effect in music and visual, and in visual performance.

QuakerCity2015mummers-photo-2015-24Quaker City String Band and its junkyard Hobo theme took second while QC Captain Jimmy Good won First Prize Captain. Jimmy was actually sick on New Year’s Day but you’d never know it.quakercityscrapsmummers-photo-2015-32 Quaker won 1st Prize last year and was a victor this year in many people’s eyes. Such is the beauty of Mummery. You could make the case for 5 or 6 of the bands this year, depending on what you accent. By the way, bands 2 through 5 were separated in the official judging by .55 of a point or less. Quaker won in music playing. Ferko took second in that category, with Fralinger 3rd.

Woodland2015mummers-photo-2015-54Two bands tied for 3rd: South Philadelphia and its Gangs of Gotham theme and Ferko2015-mummers-parade-0939Woodland’s One Heart One Spirit Theme.

Woodland’s Captain, Tom Robison, shared 3rd prize Captain.

Also sharing 3rd Prize Captain is Anthony Celenza of Ferko.  Anthony understands the role of the traditional Captain better than anyone.  He was listed as 4th in the official results that were issued, but if you examine the points, he and Tom Robison are actually tied for 3rd.

dennypalandro2015-mummers-parade-6208To anyone who was watching, South Philadelphia Captain Denny Palandro I think did an excellent job of acting and dancing. He was the Joker.

He WAS the Joker. Great job, Mr. Palandro.

AnthonyCelenza2015-mummers-parade-0961The Joseph A. Ferko String Band itself finishes5th with an uplifting homage to India. The movement in this band was inspirational.


JohnBaron2015-mummers-parade-0769Coming in 6th is Hegeman String Band with another innovative performance which is spurring more talk about whether stages should be used, how video panels should be used and the boldness of the nontraditional costumes. One uncontroversial result: Captain John Baron turned in another great performance and took 2nd Prize Captain. That Mohawk was awesome.

This note: Less than a point separated the top 4 Captains.

PolishAmerican2015-mummers-parade-6495Polish American comes in 7th with “50 Shades of Hay.” I liked this performance a lot. I believe PA should be recognized for taking a traditional Mummers theme and executing it musically well and with fun imagery. This is a band that tries to be fresh while still being Mum.

Number 8 goes to Avalon String Band. Captain Jack Hee takes 5th prize Captain. Coming at 9 is Uptown String Band and Aqua is 10.  Philadelphia Police Officer Ken Maminski did very well in his first year as Captain.  If you want to know what being a Mummer means and how it can positively affect a whole family, just spend some time talking with the Maminski family.

Finishing 11, Durning, Pennsport at 12, and Duffy at 13. Congratulations Duffy on winning the Custard’s Last Stand Award for “Log-A-Rhythm.”  Greater Kensington is 14 and Greater Overbrook is 15. Both of those bands should be proud of the great shows they put on. Broomall comes in at 16, in the eyes of the official judges. Congratulations to Broomall Captain Pete Broomall, Sr., who not only is going into the String Band Association Hall of Fame, but also performed just weeks after having knee surgery.

south-philly-vikings-2015-mummers-parade-photos-0466In the Fancy Brigades the buzz is all about the South Philly Vikings who made history by going first and finishing first. Congratulations to the Vikings and Captain Pete D’Amato for their “Day of the Avatar: Master of the Elements.”  Bill McIntyre’s Shooting Stars finish 2nd, followed by Satin Slipper. And, the Slipper is ecstatic. You have a brigade that was, in the words of one member, 20 guys and a boom box 2 years ago and then they open the club to women and the band rockets to number 3. They have great tattoos, too.

Coming in at 4 is Avenuers. (Hi, Gracie.). Next are the Jokers, then Saturnalian, Golden Crown, Spartans, Downtowners, 2nd Street Shooters, and Clevemore. Look for the addition of 3 Ring NYB next year.

Riverfront NYAtom2015trophyWho Do Dat Voodoo Like We Do? Apparently no one better than Riverfront this year!  Riverfront2015In the Wench Brigade Division, Riverfront takes first prize as does Captain Tom Kelhower. Congratulations to Danny Howlett and all in Riverfront.

Froggy Carr is second. The Pirates are 3rd, O’Malley 4th, and the new Brigade, Americans comes in a very respectable 5th in its 1st outing as the newest of the PopBrysonbadgeIMG_20150103_085955712big Wench Brigades.  Bryson gave founding patriarch, the late Joseph Pop Bryson a righteous New Year’s celebration.

Well done to the folks of McKean St.

MickeyMouse2015-mummers-parade-5618In the Comics, Murray Comic Club wins its 17th first prize in a row in its 79th year of strutting in the New Year.

A tip of the hat goes to the Goodtimers “Miss Mummerdelphia 2015”, “The Evolution  of Elvis” and the topical, “Backin’ on Broad Street.”

AngeloMolinari2015-mummers-parade-5531However, the first prize Captain this year goes to Angelo Molinari of Goodtimers for his tropical delight on a winter day, his “Mummer Vacation.”


The Wenches and Comics were in stellar form this year. But, before we got to see them, we got something new.   The Fancy Division started off the parade this year. GoldenSunrise2015-mummers-parade-5064  Golden Sunrise, the only remaining Fancy Club, therefore was first up.GhostDancegolden-sunrise-2015-mummers-parade-5265 Matthew Leighton III wins the Handsome Costume Category with his Ghost Dance. The club also dedicated their march this year to Palma and John Lucas, the legendary wife and husband team at the helm of Golden Sunrise.

Here’s to freedom. Celebrating New Year’s Day, in a Philadelphia way. Thank you to the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces.  Happy New Year!

Getting closer!


The 2015 SugarHouse Casino Mummers Parade nears! Jennifer Lewis-Hall and I are set at the start of the new parade route. Happy New Year!