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

ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE REVEALS REAL HIGHSMITH

Mummer Steve 2014-09-04 at 8.58.38 PM#ALSIceBucketChallenge Steve Highsmith takes the ice bucket challenge, outside the Mummers Museum, in the heart of South Philadelphia.

Greater Overbrook String Band and many of the giving Mummers community, cheered on as Mummers Museum President Rusty Martz and veteran String Band musician Jay Nestor doused Steve with the ice cold water, which stripped away the business veneer of the veteran broadcaster, revealing his true inner Mummerness.  At least, that’s our story.

Let’s find a cure for ALS and all neurological and muscular diseases!  Special thank you to Jay and South Philadelphia String Band for the fab suit.

 

2012 SugarHouse Casino PHL17 Viewer’s Choice Awards

The winners of the 2012 SugarHouse Casino PHL17 Viewer’s Choice Poll have been announced at SugarHouse Casino.  Hundreds of Mummers were on hand to cheer the top finishers and enjoy the hospitality of SugarHouse.  The place was Mummin’. Woodland String Band, showing the class and polish it’s always had, serenaded the gathered as they awaited the results.  And, the results are:  Finishing 1st in the eyes and ears of the viewer’s in 2012 are South Philadelphia String Band and South Philly Vikings. This is the 7th year the viewers have been selecting their favorites in the String Band Division and the 3rd year they have been choosing their winners in the Fancy Brigade Division.

South Philadelphia String Band with its “A Tune Full of Sugar” theme wowed the viewers of the String Band Division.  The costuming and performance satisfied every sweet tooth out there.  Captain Denny Palandro delivered another solid display of showmanship.  Congratulations to Jim Browne and all at South Philadelphia.  Your confection was infectious.   SPSB also won the coveted “Custard’s Last Stand” award. That will be formally handed out at the String Band Association banquet.

Here’s the the rest of the Viewer’s Choice top 5 in the String Band Division.

Coming in 2nd with the viewers is Woodland String Band, which took 1st Prize in the official judging with its jungle theme.   3rd goes to Quaker City.  Ferko finishes 4th and Fralinger, 5th.

In the Fancy Brigade Division, South Philly Vikings won the SugarHouse Casino PHL17 Viewer’s Choice Poll with its theme “Ka’Light’Oscope: Harness The Power of the Spectrum.”  This trend-setting brigade broke new ground again with its electrifying visual artistry.  SPV also won the official judging on New Year’s Day.  Vikings Captain Pete D’amato also took 1st prize in the official judging for Captain. 

Finishing second tonight in the determination of the viewers is Bill McIntyre’s Shooting Stars and in 3rd place, Golden Crown.

And in a wonderful display of commitment and community spirit, SugarHouse Casino not only hosted this year’s awards ceremony, but it also donated a total of $5,000 to the Mummers Museum, $2,500 dollars in the name of each winner, South Philly Vikings and South Philadelphia String Band.