It's more than a tradition.
(That's the Philly Phanatic in the above video) If you live somewhere near Philadelphia, PA, you probably are familiar with the Mummer's Parade. This parade is traditionally held on New Year's day and normally is an all-day affair. I have attended quite a few myself. The captain used to be the one with the biggest headdress, the most elaborate costume, or the lead character. There is competition within each division which consists of the Comics, Wench Brigades, Fancies, String Bands, and Fancy Brigades. The unofficial theme song for the Mummers is "O, Dem Golden Slippers"
How many of you know how to do the Mummer's Strut? I mean the real Mummer's Strut. I do. It is a must on New Year's Day to dance that strut, at least, once.
This is the famous Mummer's strut!
If you do get a change to see the parade live, I have to tell you it all depends on where you are as to what you will see. Some of the bands will play music while they are strutting, others will just walk. Most of the action is up where the judges and the TV media are located. This is where you usually see the shows. If you are lucky, though, some of the groups will practice their show while they are stopped waiting for the line to move.
I've found that it's better to watch the parade on TV than to actually bre there in person. There is a lot of noise and commotion and if you don't get up at the crack of dawn to position yourself in a place where you know you will see things, you more than likely will not see anything. The other thing is even if you do get up and get yourself a good position, there are always those people who just plant themselves in front of you, so you can't see anyway. Then, of course, you always have the police vehicles, security, and pretzel-cotton candy vendors that seem to also plant themselves in front of you. Goodness, gracious - TV - the better way to watch a Philadelphia parade.
This next three videos show an example of the color, props, and the quality of some of the performances.
Year 2012 (Candy Theme)
Marching Position: 5
Organization: South Philadelphia String Band
Captain: Denny Palandro
Theme Title: A Tune Full Of Sugar
Theme Concept: Begin down the magical road to sweet surprises. Let your imagination soar on this whimsical journey as you enter the town of tantalizing treats. Indulge yourself as you jump on the truck or train and let it take you somewhere over the rainbow. End this confectionary dream while flying through sugar land and falling on top of a candied carousel.
Year 2011 (You might want to mute your sound. Between the noise of the crowd and the musicians, it is very chaotic)
Mummers Parade 2011 Quaker City String Band
Year 2008 (Halloween-Frankenstein Theme)
Polish American band performs "Ghouls Gone Wild"
A little history from Wikipedia.........
The Mummers Parade is an American event held each New Year's Day in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is thought to be the oldest folk festival in the United States.
Local clubs (usually called "New Years Associations") compete in one of four categories (comics, fancies, string bands and fancy brigades). They prepare elaborate costumes and moveable scenery, which take months to complete. This is done in clubhouses – many of which are located on or near 2nd Street (called "Two Street" by some local residents) in the Pennsport neighborhood of the city's South Philadelphia section – which also serve as social gathering places for members.
- traces back to mid-17th-century roots, blending elements from Swedish, Finnish, Irish, English, German and other European heritages, as well as African heritage.
- is related to the Mummers Play tradition from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Revivals of this tradition are still celebrated annually in South Gloucestershire, England on Boxing Day and in parts of Ireland on St. Stephen's Day and also in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador around Christmas.
- Swedes, Philadelphia's first settlers, brought the custom of visiting neighbors on "Second Day Christmas" (December 26) with them to Tinicum. This was soon extended through New Year's Day with costumed celebrants loudly parading through the city.
- Traditional New Years' celebrations of firing guns (Swedes and Finns) and recitations of traditional rhymes (English and Welsh) joined common practices of visiting neighbors. The Belsnickle, an early German version of Santa Claus, inspired comic masqueraders riding through Tinicum and Kingsessing dressed as clowns.
- U.S. President George Washington carried on the official custom of New Year's Day calls during the seven years he occupied President's House in Philadelphia. The Mummers continued their traditions of comic verse in exchange for cakes and ale. Small groups of up to twenty mummers, their faces blackened, went door to door, shooting and shouting, spoofing General Washington and the English Mummers' play St. George and the Dragon.
Here's a look at some of the parades in history.
1989 Spring Strut Ferko At the Strutters Ball
1971 Fralinger String Band John Phillip Sousa-- Captain John J Fralinger
Mummers Parade, New Years Day 1956, South Broad St. between Tasker and Morris Sts. Poor quality from 8mm film.
This video has clips of string bands and fancies from the Mummers parade in Phialdelphia, as well as the Ice Capades.
I hope you enjoy the videos and a taste of the Mummer's. Sending my wishes to everyone for a great new year.
2010 String Band Performances
This article "The Progression of the Mummer's Parade" was written and compiled by ©PonGoad 2012. Some Rights Reserved. Pongoad does not claim authorship of any of the videos presented.