Mourning in South Philadelphia

#011SouthPhiladelphiaSBClubhouseWith the start of a new year, many people look for a new beginning in some part of their lives.  This is a good thing.  Most of us do so, not with foolish optimism, but because we are good people.  We have celebrations not because we are selfish or hedonistic, but because we want to improve, to enjoy each other, enjoy the gift of life and we want to encourage that joy in others.

New Year’s Day 2019 started that way for many, many people.  The men, women and children of the Philadelphia Mummers awoke in the early morning hours to rekindle the Philadelphia folk tradition of calling on family and friends and playing together in the streets.  They shared their brilliant suits, unique sounds, silliness and satire, struts and choreography with the world.  We hail Golden Sunrise, Murray Comic Club, Quaker City String Band, South Philly Vikings, the Pirates and all the winners.  It is about competition to some degree, but it’s also about sharing the joy of life and making others smile.  In that competition on New Year’s Day, South Philadelphia String Band finished a very close second.  It was a great day.

It then feels soul-wrenching when word comes that in the hours after that joyful expression, that three young people we knew suddenly died and that another vibrant person lies critically injured.  Young people who have helped you enjoy life are in an instant gone or fighting to live.  It’s just wrong.  Why do bad things happen to good people?

Thousands of people associated with the folk tradition of Mummery are shaking their heads and asking that question.  Some are angry; others are deeply saddened and emotionally spent.  None of the answers seems good enough as we mourn the sudden passing of three good young people and pray for the recovery of another, all victims of a crime.

The emptiness, the feeling of one’s heart jumping from your chest, is incalculably magnified, more painful and intense, for the South Philadelphia String Band family and especially for the immediate family members of Joe, Kelly, Denny and Nicole.

Mummers have been making sure that the Ferry and Palandro families and their extended families have not been alone.  They will continue to stand together, to mourn together, and hopefully to aid in Nicole’s recovery.  All will struggle to try to find the answers that elude us.  If we find a functional way forward, it may begin with faith and with always remembering the passion and joy of these beautiful young people.  For now, we just are feeling lost, and it may be that way for awhile.South Philadelphia String Band with Black Ribbon 2

Happy Anniversary Murray Comic Club

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The Murray Comic Club celebrates its 80th anniversary tonight and its 18th 1st Prize in a row with a gala at SugarHouse Casino.  500 attendees are here, including past presidents and officers of other clubs. And, of course, big cheers to President Rich Porco and his daughter, Jessica, long time leaders of Murray and standard bearers of Mummery.  As Rich said tonight, “We’re not a club, we’re a family.”

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Murray has been a steady supporter of Easter Seals, our Armed Forces overseas and Philabundance. On New Year’s Day and throughout the year, Murray is number one. Congratulations and thank you, Murray Comic Club.

Talent is in the House

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And I mean on the stage. The Neumann Goretti High School Talent Show is underway in South Philadelphia. Congratulations to all the students.
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The row of judges are busy including my SugarHouse Casino Mummers Parade partner Alicia Vitarelli of 6ABC and PHL17 News at Ten. Thanks to Father Olson and Bruce Robinson for being such good hosts.

Neumann Goretti Talent Night

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That’s the view from my judge’s seat at tonight Neumann Goretti Talent Show. The Parents Association and the kids

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have set a great stage at this historic South Philadelphia high school.

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Celebration!

2016 Champion Golden Crown leading the celebration tonight at the Fancy Brigade Banquet at SugarHouse Casino.

Fancy Brigade Banquet 2016

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Members of the Shooters styling on the deck at SugarHouse Casino tonight at the annual Fancy Brigade Association Banquet in Philadelphia.

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It’s a night to honor all the men, women and children who every New Year’s Day entertain the city with the Mummers tradition inside the Pennsylvania Convention Center, and throughout the year are there for family, neighborhood and country.

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Tonight is a night to remember the late FB Association President and former Captain of the Downtowners, Jim Julia.

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It’s a night to honor and welcome Tommy Knight, Jr.,  into the Hall of Fame.

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Among those here, Mary and Tom Loomis, Jessica and Rich Porco, Palma and John Lucas,

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and other representatives of other Mummers Divisions. Other strong supporters,

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including Vince and Norma Giannini of PHL17, joined the Brigades in this massive celebration at the new SugarHouse.

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Congratulations to Champions Golden Crown and all the clubs. A great night for a great tradition.

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The People Have Spoken

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Congratulations to Woodland String Band and to Bill McIntyre’s Shooting Stars, winners of the 2016 SugarHouse Casino Viewer’s Choice Awards for their performances on New Years Day in the Mummers Parade. 

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Mummers from all Divisions gathered tonight at the new conference and event facility at SugarHouse Casino for the annual revelation. A pleasant time was guaranteed for all.