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.

Captain’s Log…


Talking with many String Band Captains today and tomorrow at the Mummers Museum as we prepare for the SugarHouse Casino Mummers Parade. Harry Bradley of Greater Kensington stopped by. His 2 inspirational Captains of all time? Bob Shannon, Jr. and Scott Moyer.

Big Changes

Big changes have come on the power block of 2 Street in South Philadelphia.  Fralinger and Quaker City, two of the most successful string bands of all time, have voted to replace key members in leadership positions.  Fralinger has a new Captain and Quaker City has a new Music Director.

D'Amore 2012Fralinger Captain Thomas D’Amore lost a close election to Scott Wray.  Admirers of this band and folks who know Scott wish him all the best.  However, this is also a head turner to many since Thomas has won First Prize Captain 3 of the last 4 years and the band has won First Prize in 2 of the last 4 years.  Thomas has not only excelled as a Captain on Broad Street, but has been professional in his public role as Captain and giving of his time to charitable causes.

shcfeb11,2012 005Fran Rothwein is no longer Music Director of Quaker City String Band.   QC has selected Michael Spanky Brown for the role.  Spanky is another talented and hard working member of Quaker.  Fran has served as MD for nearly 20 years in one of the most successful periods of the band’s history.  He is a flat-out good guy, and talented, too.  Quaker also recently gave him an award for coming back from illness.

Well-meaning Mummers everywhere should recognize the quality and contributions of Thomas D’Amore and Fran Rothwein, and we should all hope that in whatever capacity they choose and Mummery allows, that we will see and hear more of them.

To the Winners!


The 2013 SugarHouse Casino Mummers Parade launched the new year, Philadelphia-style! Thousands of strutters celebrating the new year and writing another chapter in the history of the Mummers tradition.

2-2013-Mummers-9906-150x150A salute to the Murray Comic Club for another big win and to Murray’s winning Captain Dennis Pellegrino.

The Goodtimers Comic Club scored in the comic brigade category with Rabble Rousers NYB and their theme, “Scrapitalism.” B. Love Strutters and Jesters take 2nd and 3rd. Last year’s winners, Two Street Stompers finish a strong 4th.


Congratulations to Jackie Bam Bam of Golden Sunrise. The Alice Cooper of Mummery takes 1st Prize for his “Black Magic” in the Handsome Costume category of the Fancies.  John Lucas builds a great suit.

2-2013-Mummers-0556-150x150Hog Island takes first prize among the Fancy Clubs.

Golden Sunrise’s Matt Glovacz with that awesome engine and box car takes 1st Prize Fancy Captain.  The Hog’s “Polynesian Volcano Dancer” with Bryanne Hornung takes 1st in the King Clown category ,“Flight of the Monarch” with Bill Chischnijak wins King Jockey, and “Guardian of the Crown” with Jesse, Tabitha and Shannon win Handsome Trim.


Bryson wins! Congrats Pop, and a tip of the bonnet to Bryson Captain Eddie “Gootch” Bryson for winning 1st  Prize Captain in the Wench Brigade Division. Bryson NYB takes 1st Prize among the wenches for their “Fight Like A Lady” theme in beautiful pink and white. Great job, great cause, heart-felt.

JHJ Saints finish a good 2nd; George Stewart’s Pirates a strong third.

2013-01-01_17-12-13_876In the String Band Division, Fralinger overcame the fire and last year’s un-Fralinger like finish in results and came “Back From the Dead” to win 1st Prize with their haunting, zombie like theme.  However, it was close. Just 6-tenths of a point separates Fralinger and number 2 Quaker City String Band, who delivered a textbook performance that will have fans of each club debating for years. Woodland performed as Champions and finished a strong 3rd this year. South-Philadelphia-String-Band-Mummers-Parade-2013-0916-150x150

South Philadelphia comes in 4th; Ferko 5th.  Hegeman with its exquisite 1960’s London love story finishes 6th. Avalon-7th; Aqua-8th; Polish American 9th and Uptown 10th. Rounding out the field are Pennsport, Duffy, Broomall, Durning, Greater Kensington,Greater Overbrook and Trilby.  Congratulations to Felicia Kaminski and Anthony Mulzet on their engagement!

Congratulations to Fralinger Captain Thomas D’Amore for winning 1st prize Captain again. Jack Hee takes 2nd prize again. Wonderful entrance, Jack, from the elephant.  Denny Palandro takes 3rd. Great performance by Ryan Radcliffe lifts him to 4th. Charlie Roetz takes 5th, followed by Charlie Nicholas, John Baron, new Captain Nick Magenta, and Ron Iannacone who completes the top ten.

Congratulations to South Philly Vikings and to new Captain, Gerald Roccia for finishing 1st in the Fancy Brigade Finale and 1st among Captains with their performance of “RU Game.” Downtowners take 2nd and Saturnalian 3rd. Avenuers are 4th and Bill McIntyre’s Shooting Stars are 5th.  Bob Fitzmaurice takes 2nd in the Captain’s category; Frank DeVito ,3rd.

Enjoy the moment!

Music Under the Stars

The annual summer experience of String Band music under the stars begins this evening on the Mummers Museum grounds.   The Museum is at 2nd and Washington in South Philadelphia.

Quaker City String Band will lead off the season. The evening begins as early 6 o’clock with food and drink and the music usually starts around 8 p.m. and lasts till 10.

Each week bands will rotate through the season.  It’s a great way to spend a few hours with friends, get the weekend started early and support the Mummers Museum.  Plan to make a few dates this season.

If you can, start tonight with Quaker and the Mummers Museum summer concerts!

It’s the most Mummerful time of the Year

The biggest reason I love the Mummers are the people who Mum and one teenager is a perfect example of why.  13-year-old Julia Parmisciano is a smart, upbeat, talented person.  She’s a fan of the Mummers.  Julia is also a heart transplant recipient.  She suffered cardiac arrest last spring while at Epiphany of Our Lord School at 13th and Jackson.  Julia was lucky to survive.  She was taken to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia where she waited for more than 6 months for a heart transplant operation.  Doctors think she had lived with a weakened heart since contracting  a virus at a very early age.  In late November, the donor heart became available and she underwent the operation.  She came home to South Philadelphia in time for Christmas and to see the preparations for New Year’s Day.  Her mother, Grace, and her whole family have been wonderful in supporting Julia.  Her friends have sprung into action, too.  They have started the Hope for Julia Fund to defray some of the big bills that insurance won’t pay. How you can help is farther below.

Julia made great friends while she was in CHOP.  She plays the guitar really well.  She played with Selena Gomez , and met Ryan Seacrest and Joe Jonas who stopped by CHOP.  Gomez and Jonas autographed her guitar.  But, as cool as all that was, it was Julia’s hospitalized friends and the nurses at CHOP who impressed her the most. Now, Julia wants to be a cardiac nurse when she grows up.

I was at her house when members of several Mummers clubs came by to serenade Julia and boost her spirits.  They came from Quaker City String Band, the Jester’s (Julia’s favorite), South Philly Vikings, Satin Slipper, Avenuers and more.   Quaker City played “When You’re Smilin’.”  Julia had to wear a mask that day, as she will for a little while longer, to prevent infection.  But, no mask could hide her happiness at seeeing Mummers and seeing that so many people care about her.  Julia is glad to be home.

As an aside, I want thank the members of two string bands who in the past week have given me awards. Avalon String Band for induction into the Broadcast Pioneers Hall of Fame and for broadcasting the parade, and Quaker City String Band Friday night delivered its Humanitarian Award to me.  Both are extremely kind and reflective of the great hearts of Mummers.

If you can, donate to help Julia’s family, send a check to:

PNC Bank

c/o Hope for Julia

1544 Packer Avenue

Philadelphia, PA   19145

Best B&B

The last two nights I had the pleasure of being with the best B&B as determined by the thousands of people who took part in the PHl17 Viewer’s Choice Poll.  The viewers selected Quaker City String Band and Bill McIntyre’s Shooting Stars as the finest performers on New Year’s Day.  I presented the awesome Viewer’s Choice trophy for String Band to Quaker City President Harry Brown, Jr., and the band Wednesday night at the QC clubhouse.  Thursday night, I handed over the equally powerful Viewer’s Choice trophy for Fancy Brigade to Mickey Adams and the brigade at their clubhouse.  The winners get to keep the trophies.  They are not passed around year to year.  Every form of recognition can be important, but the Viewer’s Choice Awards for Best String Band and Best Fancy Brigade are reflective of the people’s choice.   Each club earned it.   Congratulations Shooting Stars and Quaker City!  

Remembering Tony

The condolences continue following the passing Monday morning of Mr. Tony Bonanno. The arrangements for the viewing and funeral have been made. The viewing will take place Thursday night, February 10, from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at Murphy-Ruffenach Funeral Home at 3rd and Wolf in South Philadelphia.  The viewing will continue Friday morning from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. The funeral Mass will begin at 9:30 a.m. at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Roman Catholic Church. The members of Quaker City String Band will attend the viewing and funeral. Maria and her family suggest that anyone considering a contribution in Tony’s name, please consider donating to the Joan Karnell Cancer Center at Pennsylvania Hospital. Here’s the link: .

To say that Tony was quite a guy is about as much of an understatement as one could make. But, Tony was not alone in being wonderful. His wife, Maria, easily gives him a run for his money. There has not been a finer couple. Maria was the model of grace, dignity and friendship last night, as family, friends and members of the Quaker City String Band family filled her row home. It also has been reassuring about the goodness of people to see so many members of Quaker City and the larger Mummer community show their support in so many ways in recent weeks. When I saw Quaker President Harry Brown, Jr., at Maria and Tony’s house last night, he had already been there for 11 hours. The heartfelt loss experienced by so many people who are not technically Tony and Maria’s family shows the impact they have had and the goodness of these Mummers who live the meaning of the words friend and family. People like Susan and Bob Shannon. Susan was the matchmaker who got Maria and Tony together. You did well, Susan.  An interesting, perhaps, wonderful, maybe even necessary trait of the human condition is that in time the pain of these days will subside. Not forgotten, but the deep loss will be placed where it does not paralyze anymore. That day will come for those who mourn the passing of Tony Bonanno. But, even more wonderful than coping, is that the great memories of Tony and the love of life that flowed from him will remain, indeed, thrive in all who knew him.

With Sadness…

It is with much sadness that I report the passing this morning of Mr. Tony Bonanno.  Tony died about 7:45 a.m. at his home in South Philadelphia.  His life and his spirit through his long illness are inspirational.  To his wife, Maria, and all his family, his friends and colleagues, and his Quaker City String Band family, we extend our condolences and the full faith that Tony lives forever in the hearts and the smiles of those he touched.

Shaken or Stirred!

Like James Bond, Tony Bonanno likes martinis.  And you need to shake, stir or at least look at one this Friday night, because it’s time for us to step up in honor of Tony and his wife, Maria.  If you follow this column, you know that I have reported that Tony has been very ill.  Maria has been able to do some work from home, but as you can imagine, a serious illness can take quite a toll in many ways.  Your opportunity to help a family with Class, Pride and Commitment is here, this Friday, February 4th.  Quaker City String Band is holding a party (there’ll be martinis and beer and non-alcholic drinks) to raise money for the family.  The get together starts at 8pm.  It costs 10 dollars to get in.  Lots of businesses on or near 2 Street and on South Street have donated items to make the evening a success.  Any way you like it, it’s a call to action this Friday night at the Quaker City String Band Clubhouse to help a great couple, Maria and Tony Bonanno.  Where there’s a Mummer, there’s a Bond.