Viewer’s Choice Decisions Tonight

Hello, Mummer Lovers!  It’s time to award the Viewer’s Choice winners for the Fancy Brigades and String Bands from New Year’s Day.  The results from mid-January’s calculations have been securely kept in a mustard jar on Rusty Martz’ stoop.  They will be revealed this evening, Tuesday evening, at the new event facility at SugarHouse Casino.

All Mummers at the event will receive one Free Drink Ticket for a beverage of their choice, including a non-alcohol drink. Two buffets will serve prime rib, (2) side dishes, a pasta station with (2) options, and a dessert spread.

And!!! There are three $1,000 drawings from the pool of all other clubs present.   Be there by 7 pm.  Please allow for a little slower traffic.  The delicious event will take place despite the small to modest snowfall expected.

Thank you to South Philadelphia String Band for providing the entertainment.

Any changes due to weather or objections from the mustard jar will be reported on this site.

This note for those under 21 or with family members under 21:  “Individuals under 21 are welcome, but families with underage kids will need to park in the parking garage (as they aren’t allowed on the gaming floor), take the elevator straight to the event center on the 2nd floor, and exit the same way.”

Goodbye Jim.


A very long and emotional goodbye continues in South Philadelphia for the late Jim Julia. 1600 people attended his viewing last night at 3rd and Wolf. Hundreds more are here this morning. Our Lady of Mt. Carmel is filled with PECO and Verizon employees, SugarHouse Casino representatives, elected officials and countless Mummers. The Downtowners Fancy Brigade marched together into the church.  Jim’s family is graciously engaging those expressing condolences.  Beautiful tapestries, similar to the one above in the funeral home, showing Jim, his family and his showmanship, and flowers line the front of the Church near the altar.  Now, the funeral Mass is about to begin.  It’s time to say farewell to Jim Julia.  That is something very difficult to accept.

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.

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!

Parade On


Wendy Hamilton, Mayor Nutter and other dignitaries and MUMMERS officially announce to the public plans for the fireworks New Year’s Eve and the SugarHouse Casino Mummers Parade on New Year’s Day. New parade route, more interaction. Strutting begins at 10 a.m. at 15th and Market. Coverage begins at 8.

Still Goin’ ‘Round the Hall

Mummers2004_captainstillIt appears it is time to go “down the street.”  It’s an historic change.  The parade route, the direction of the parade, what blocks are traveled, and where clubs will pre-position themselves, are likely to undergo a huge change,  larger than the Market Street years or the no longer  “up to Girard Avenue” years.  As often happens with change, it does not come easily for all.  However, any student of the history of the Mummers will recognize that change is a part of Mummery.  The question each will ask is, how much of changing the route is changing the heart of what it means to be a Mummer? Or, is the old route, while an important part of Mummer history, not really a core principle of Mummery?

I can tell you that the latest effort to change the SugarHouse Casino Mummers Parade route picked up momentum last year. This is not a new thing. Most folks involved talked quietly about it last year and the first half of this year because there’s so much emotion tied up in tracing the steps their families took, and in the loyal fans who line Broad Street south of Mifflin.  In true Mum fashion, there are members of each division who think the idea stinks. But, contrary to some social media and other reporting, this is not the idea of just one division.  My read is that most leaders and many members of the String Band and Fancy Brigade divisions are the largest backers of the change, but I have found support, too, among members of the other divisions, including leadership.

SugarHouse Casino and PHL17 did not suggest the change and are not encouraging or discouraging it.  This is a Mummers idea.  To be sure, pressure over the years from the City of Philadelphia to shorten the parade and make it faster, has had an effect, but the idea for this change started with the Mummers.

Philly Naked Bike RideSources say the City of Philadelphia likes the proposal, though no final route has been published. But, here is what it looks like now. The leaders of the 5 Mummers Divisions and the City of Philadelphia are planning to reverse the route and shorten it.   The Mummers will still go “‘Round the Hall,” just south.   The 115th annual SugarHouse Casino Mummers Parade would start near City Hall, near 16th or 15th Street and JFK.  The clubs would be judged at 15th and JFK.  They then would proceed south around City Hall, down Broad Street, ending at Washington Avenue.  There was a proposal to march down South Street. That was nixed a few months ago.

Mummers who support the new route down Broad say it would allow for a more free-flowing, nonstop parade, and they say it removes some blocks where parade watchers just don’t live or go to any more. The evolution to a more prop-driven parade in the String Bands also helped create gaps along the older, longer parade route. The String Bands will likely pre-position themselves along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

After they are judged, they will leave their props and continue the rest of the route without the props, allowing for more of a continuous musical parade. Judging for all divisions would be done first in the parade, not at the end. Other divisions will arrive near 16th and JFK from other points.  There is one less Fancy Club this coming parade. Hog Island is now in the Comic Division. Golden Sunrise carries the Fancy banner.  We’re told this new route would also make it easier for the Fancy Brigades who perform indoors at the PA Convention Center to march outside, though they’ll not perform their show outdoors.

South-Philadelphia-String-Band-Mummers-Parade-2013-0902The start time of the parade could shift 30 minutes to an hour earlier, or remain the same.  While the new parade route would end at Broad and Washington, community groups along Washington Avenue and in Pennsport will be examining how the new route might effect them, if at all. These and other details above have not been finalized.

For Mummers, the biggest concerns about shortening and reversing the route are the change of a long-standing tradition of going “Up The Street” and the effect it might have on South Philadelphia, especially on businesses and on older residents who might not travel to Center City to see their beloved Mummers. Yes, there have been some good parties along that stretch.  South Philadelphia is still home to most of the clubhouses of the Mummers, so New Year’s Day and that evening will still have Mum presence.

MUMMERS_ROWThis historic change looks like it has all the momentum needed to happen. I have spoken to some of the leaders who endorse this movement and their motivations are clear. They say times have changed and that by changing this route they can make a better parade for parade watchers, tourists, the city and the Mummers who are strutting, a better parade for the 21st Century. But for a city that not long ago said no one could build higher than William Penn, change does not come without a little initial discomfort.  Changes in a 115-year-old tradition probably should not come easily.  On the bright side, I can see some good Comic satire already in the works.

This just in…Wendy Wins! Woo-Hoo!

Wendy H IMG_20130604_151906_966Wendy Hamilton has won a significant award and congratulations to her and to all who voted for her.  Here’s the beginning of the press release that just came out.


Wendy Hamilton Honored by 95.7 BEN FM at Woman of the Week Awards Event

PHILADELPHIA — April 14, 2014 — SugarHouse Casino General Manager Wendy Hamilton was honored today with the “Woman Who Empowers Us” award from 95.7 BEN FM at the radio station’s annual Woman of the Week main event.