Sats Celebrate Half a Century

20171111_201610Saturnalian New Years Association celebrated 50 years in Mummery this weekend in a fun and beautiful gathering at SugarHouse Casino.  It was extraordinary going through the decades with images of the past performances and remarks by former captains like John Griffith, Dave Moscinski and John Zakrewski, and current captain, Jack Hatty, Jr. One fun fact among many with Saturnalian: It took first prize in its very first parade in the late 1960’s.  The Sats honored the living and departed members of the club and also celebrated the contributions of women members to the Fancy Brigade.20171111_214651 Josephine Thompson, a 12 year member of the Sats, led that recognition.  I am also grateful to the club for its welcoming of me to the event.  20171112_210822Saturnalian has a successful history and is again a brigade on the rise.  Here’s to the Richie Ski and all the gang going from last year’s “Gangs of New York” performance at the Pennsylvania Convention Center to a fun circus theme in the works this coming New Year’s Day.  It will be a great night for the club from 1811 S. 2nd Street.

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.

Let the Chip Fall Where It May

imageA moo-ving experience is underway this afternoon at Murphy Playground, 3rd & Oregon, in South Philadelphia.

The Fancy Brigade Association is holding its annual Cow Chip Bingo Festival in conjunction with the Philadelphia Recreation Department. Proceeds benefit both.

Folks await the moo-vement that will yield a tidy sum for the winner and benefit both the Recreation Department and the Brigades, which put on those great shows inside the Pennsylvania Convention Center on New Year’s Day.   imageThere are other activities for the kids right now while the adults watch a cow more closely than they ever imagined.  Just an “udder” delight on a September afternoon, courtesy your friendly local Mummers.

The Spartans are here!

Spartans4482674_447259282020112_1015352140_nThe Spartans Fancy Brigade is here and already cleaning up. Literally. Spartans162596_10201003076023705_602805978_n  The newest Fancy Brigade went out this weekend and cleaned up the ball field complex at EOM.   Nice job, Spartans.  Adults and younger ones were on hand.

The Spartans NYB is the newest Mummers Fancy Brigade.  They are and want to be very community minded, so they took it to the streets, painting and sweeping and bagging. Spartans5539818_10201003088864026_2123532796_n

The Spartans are a family-oriented club and hope to attract members who think that way, too.  Congratulations to Jerry and all the members and good luck as you prepare for New Year’s.


Members of the Spartans NYB already doing their part in South Philadelphia!


Crafts & Arts Sunday!

It’s time. The 2012 Greatest Folk Parade Tradition steps off in 57 days.  On this first weekend in November thousands of Mummers take a significant turn in the long process of getting ready for the Mummers Parade on New Year’s Day. The RPM’s rev a little more, almost with each new day.  But, while the rehearsals continue and the focus intensifies, some of the other aspects of Mummery still go on. That includes fundraising.  So, tomorrow, Sunday, November 6th, I encourage you to stop by Neumann Goretti High School for “Mummers Celebrate Crafts.” Parking and admittance are free. The event features more than 40 artists. Get a head start on the holidays and also in the process help the Philadelphia Fancy Brigade Association be able to create their artistry in the Convention Center on NY’s Day.  (I plan to stop by around another event I’m involved with called Art-Reach. It brings the arts to kids who otherwise would not exposed to them.)  Support Your Local Mummer with an enjoyable, affordable shopping experience tomorrow at Neumann Goretti.

Round ‘Em Up

Just about 3 weeks to the fabulous 2011 Mummers Parade and another sign that the event is rushing upon us is the “Mummers Roundup.” The annual “Roundup” at the Mummers Museum sheds more light on the upcoming big parade. It’s the meeting of heads of all the clubs participating in the parade. It is conducted by the City of Philadelphia Recreation Department. City officials lay out the staging areas, the times, the rules of the road for the strut up Broad Street and other logistics. Parade Director and Deputy Recreation Commissioner Leo Dignam led the instructions from his veteran team. Here’s some of what was made official Wednesday night. Murray will start the parade, leading the Comics up Broad Street. They’ll start at Broad and Washington at 10 a.m. and move north to City Hall. Goodtimers will follow, then Landi. Then come the Wenches. Here’s the Order of March for the Wench Division this year: Oregon(formerly a Fancy Club), Saints, Bryson, Riverfront, O’Malley, Pirates, Cara Liom and Froggy Carr. The Fancies will line up on Broad between Morris and Mifflin. Golden Sunrise and Hog Island will represent the Fancy Division this year. Next are the String Bands. Pennsport starts the String Bands at Broad and Shunk, while the rest of the bands line up at Broad and Oregon. There will be several viewing areas along the parade route and the city says some improved amenities, such as more portable toilets and warming stations. I’ll have more on that and the music and drill areas in the near future. Of course, I’m biased but unless you are sitting where I get to sit on parade day, often the best seat is in your warm family or living room watching PHL17. Our coverage begins at 9 a.m. and ends at 10 p.m. with the Fancy Brigades Finale (8pm to 10pm on PHL17).  I also will have the major parade prize results in the news at 10 p.m.

Great Man, Great Night

We honored a Mummers legend on a night to remember in a room and a city of memories.  In Philadelphia, in the Crystal Tea Room, Mummery said farewell to Mickey Adams, retiring  Captain of Bill McIntyre’s Shooting Stars Fancy Brigade.  Hundreds of Mummers from across the 5 divisions dined and joked, talked and cried in an emotional evening in which the best of the Mummer tradition shined.   It was a Captain’s Night of Captain’s Nights.

Mickey Adams has been a Mummer most of his life and led the Shooting Stars as Captain for 20 parades.  In that time he won more first prizes than any Captain in the Brigades and led the Stars to 1st Prize as a club nearly one out of every two times the Brigade hit Broad Street.  Mickey was always trying to come up with new ideas and push the envelope.  He reigned in a time of explosive change for the Fancy Brigades and made the most of it.

What some folks didn’t know is that for all of his success, he still got nervous on New Year’s morning.  Mr. Adams would even, well, let’s just say he’d get a little sick to his stomach, and then he’d go out into the lights and win.

Fred Keller of the Jokers Fancy Brigade  commented in his praise of Mickey, “If I was better at this maybe I’d have all those prizes. You’re welcome, Mickey!”  Truth is, Fred was great and by being so he and the other captains made Mickey’s accomplishments all the more awesome. 

This record of success in a tradition of competition is in itself  remarkable, but it is Mickey the man who brought String Bands, competitive Brigades and normally do-their-own thing Wench Brigades together to salute one of the all time greats of Mummery.  One after another they stepped up to tell of Mickey’s impact.  This impact was felt from design to costuming to choreography to production to presentation.  But speaker after speaker commented on the impact of  Mickey the leader, Mickey the man who lives up to the great name, Bill McIntyre.

Most telling were the words of his own family, his sons Michael and Brian, who spoke of a devoted father and husband and leader.  Mickey’s daughters and his wife, Alice, were there, too.  If anyone in the room felt more love than Mickey, it was Alice.  At the end, out came the umbrellas, the saxophones and banjos struck up the tune and a strut for the ages erupted. 

Mickey Adams

When Mickey spoke, you learned something that you did not know, or maybe just had forgotten.  Mummery is more than a hobby, more than entertainment or tradition. It is about family, including the larger family of the club and the community.  Mickey Adams was drill sergeant, accountant, cheerleader, brother and father to dozens, maybe hundreds of young men.  It’s the part of the tradition we don’t see among the makeup, masks and feathers of New Year’s Day.  There are great names in the humble tradition of Mummery. Names like Isaacs, Burke, Bowen, Shannon and McIntyre.  Mickey Adams takes his place among them.

Here are some more images.

Vikings Rule L.A.

The Contenders

As I FB’d earlier in the week, I enthusiastically watched members of the South Philly Vikings in their last Philadelphia rehearsal before they left for Los Angeles.  SPV is  in L.A. and rehearsing for their next appearance on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.”  Captain Pete D’Amato says, “The competition is pretty wild. There’s some good stuff.”  What do the Vikings have planned?  I won’t give it away, but I will tell you that you’ve never seen the Vikings do what they are about to do.  With some energy and creativity, SPV will put on a new performance, which is a good move because the judges want to see new things from the contestants.  The brigade also will have more members performing than they had in New York.  The Vikes say thanks to Al Delbuono for working so quickly, so well, and so affordably, on the costuming.   Captain Pete says doing this competition is expensive, but they wanted to do it for the Mummers and now that they are in the top 48, out of thousands of contestants, SPV also really wants to win.  Co-choreographer Maria Lauer is proud of how the members have worked so hard, the hairstylists, electricians, desk workers, and others, now all dancers.  Maria says the “power and energy” of the Fancy Brigade’s performance is strong.  Watching the rehearsal, I agree.  So, in addition to the Phillies game, tune in “America’s Got Talent” this coming Tuesday night, July 27th, to cheer on the Vikings and to make sure you vote for them.  There will be a phone number given out at that time and I will also post it here.   Go SPV.  Burbank and Hollywood are yours.  Grab it.

Celebration of the Fancy Brigades

In a year in which 50 years of Fancy Brigades will be celebrated, the Philadelphia Mummers Brigade Association followed up the exciting New Year’s Day performances with the annual Brigades Awards Banquet last night.  South Philly Vikings were honored for their 1st Prize finish(as well as 1st in the myphl17 Viewers Choice Award).  Veteran Captain Mickey Adams of the Shooting Stars was acknowledged for his outstanding Captain’s performance.  Ralph Tursi was admitted into the Hall of Fame.  Jim Julia was recognized for his tenure as Captain of the Downtowners Fancy Brigade.  It was an enjoyable and uplifting evening at Penn’s Landing Caterers.  Dignitaries there included myphl17 VP & General Manager Vince Giannini, String Band Association President John Pignotti, and Congressman Bob Brady.   To all the Fancy Brigades, Golden Crown, Jokers, Downtowners, Cahill’s, Avenuers, 2nd Street Shooters, Saturnalians, Clevemore, Satin Slipper, Bill McIntyre’s Shooting Stars and South Philly Vikings, thanks for the dedication, fun and future of Mummery!