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!

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