Mummers!

(Mummers Parade. Philadelphia, PA. January 6, 2007.)*

M and I went to the Mummers Parade in Philly yesterday. It traditionally takes place on New Year’s day, but was postponed due to rain this year. In their hundred year history, this is the 24th postponement of the parade.

Both M and I grew up watching the Mummers on television every New Year’s day. Some things have changed — the string bands, for instance, put on a much more elaborate show — but most things seem about the same. Blue-collar, mostly white men dressed up in dresses, sequins, feathers, and all kinds of other costumes strutting their stuff on Broad Street. There’s quite a bit of beer involved in that parade, too, and I’m talking about the Mummers as well as the spectators. Sometimes it seems more party than parade, but that’s the whole fun of it. And boy, do those Philly folks know how to party!

As much fun as it is for those of us watching, the Mummers take their parade very seriously. You can read more about it at their website.

It was a gorgeous day, certainly not your typical January weather. It was sunny and in the 70’s. I got a slight sunburn (even with sunscreen), something I wasn’t expecting to get in January in Philadelphia. I felt a little sorry for some of the Mummers. They were sweating in some of those costumes.

I took a lot of photos and there are quite a few good ones. Maybe not good in terms of photographic quality, but in terms of the fun. Where else can one get this many silly pictures but at a Mummers parade?

The Comics start the parade and I found them to be lots of fun. One thing I noticed upon looking at the photos when we got home last night was that there are plenty of political and other jokes hidden (or not so hidden, in some cases) throughout the Comics. There were signs and masks I simply didn’t see while watching the parade. Perhaps I was distracted by the costumes. Or maybe it was the dancing. Or some of those hairy legs sticking out of the dresses.

(Mummers Parade. Philadelphia, PA. January 6, 2007)*

Most of my photos are of the Comics. I’m afraid we missed the Fancies. The parade was supposed to start at 8:00 am, but didn’t get going until around 10:00 am. Having had breakfast at 7:00, and having forgotten to pack something to eat, we decided to have lunch around 1:00pm. And wouldn’t you know it? The Fancies went by during the hour we were gone having lunch. The crowd grew considerably during that time, too. Finding a good spot to stand and watch the shows once the String Bands came out was almost impossible for someone of my stature. Is it me or is the world getting taller?

(Mummers Parade. Philadelphia, PA. January 6, 2007.)*

I think I’m going to have to post a Mummer A Day or something if I want to show off some of the colorful photos I got. There are far too many for one post. At least that will give me my own meme. 🙂

We met up with a friend in Philly who stayed with us throughout the day, trying to help us find a good spot to stand in where we could see and hear the action. I’m afraid there wasn’t much success at that, but it was good to spend time with her. Because she lives in Philly, she knows the best places to eat and she took us to a great Mexican restaurant for lunch.

It was a long day, what with getting up early, catching the train into Philly, switching to the subway system, standing for most of the day, and walking, walking, walking. I’m pretty sure we put in about 5 miles of walking, all total. That’s pretty darn good for a woman (me) who couldn’t walk more than 2-3 blocks a few weeks ago. In fact, if the parade hadn’t been postponed, I might not have been able to stay as long as I did yesterday. Just a week ago I was still having some trouble with walking and standing for long periods.

We left Philly on the 4:45 train, worn out and glad we went. It really was great fun and one of those things I’ve always wanted to do. M and I are already planning out another trip to Philly during some future New Year’s day when we’ll arrive early enough, with chairs, to get a good seat at one of the performance areas so we can truly appreciate the String Bands. We’ve also been invited to do Two Street after the parade with my friend from Philly. Two Street is the after-parade-parade, with lots of Mummers and neighborhood people partying it up on Two Street.

We did get to watch more of the String Bands upon arriving at home. The parade, having started so late, also ended late (around 8:30pm). They were broadcasting the parade on a local Philly channel which we can pick up here at the apartment. I think there were about six bands left performing when we tuned in. We saw two of them at the parade so we missed a little over half, I think.

Mummers. 🙂 I’m looking forward to seeing them again someday. I just wish I could get “Oh Dem Golden Slippers” out of my head, at least until next time. (“Oh Dem Golden Slippers” is the Mummers’ theme song.)

[N]o party is any fun unless seasoned with folly. ~Desiderius Erasmus

*Photos by Robin.


2 Comments on “Mummers!”

  1. Alto2 says:

    I never quite understood why those Mummers mum as they do. My kids loved watching the parade on TV when we lived in PA. I always found it bizarre, just this side of pedophilic.

  2. Kel says:

    ohh – now your previous post makes sense. I thought it must have been the codeine speaking to me 🙂

    Looks like a version of mardi-gras, and I found it interesting that it was supposedly the only non-corporate sponsored large scale community event in the USA – until this year.

    did I read right?


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