THE MUMMERS PARADE
If you happen to be in Philadelphia at the end of the year, and you love being out in the cold, you just might want to check out The Mummer's Parade! Be prepared though! The parade takes all day to see everything! Dress warmly, and I'm not exaggerating!! You'll need hats, gloves, boots, warm socks, etc. Bring chairs, blankets, food, drink and find a good place to park your butts! Tickets for the grandstand outside of City Hall are for sale, but you can find a free spot along Broad Street, but you need to get there really early. I went one year, way back in 1978, but was fortunate enough to have had a friend lived who a few blocks from the parade route and we could go there for hot cocoa and warm up.
The Mummers parade consists of several categories of revellers. There are the Comics, the Fancy Brigades and the String Bands. Each division has clubs that participate in the parade each year. Their costumes are very well-guarded secrets, as are their very entertaining routines. Both costumes and routines are very elaborate affairs. The men and women practice all year long for this one day! Up until 1983, women were banned from participating in the Mummers parade but some managed to sneak their way in from time to time! They were women disguised as men disguised as women! Prizes are awarded and this is very important because it gives them funds to get ready for the next year! All the clubs do all kinds of fund raisers to get money for the next year.
The Comic Division
The Comic Clubs start the parade. Just like the name says, comedy is the focus. Each club has many Brigades offering a variety of themes that includes clowns, floats, and who knows?
This is just a sampling of the costumes worn by the men in the Comic Division. These fellows are part of the Goodtimers Comic Club!
Next up are the Fancy Brigades!
The Fancy Brigade Division is the youngest/newest of the four Divisions which make-up the Mummers Parade (the others include the Comics, Fancy Clubs and String Bands). But the Fancy Brigades and the Fancy Brigade Association have been around long before 1978.
The Fancy Brigades were first formed in the early 1940's. At that time they were referred to as "Groups". In 1947 they became known as Brigades. The Brigades paraded as part of the Fancy Division and were soon referred to as Fancy Brigades. (credit to http://www.fancybrigade.com/fancy_brigades/history.php)
These fellows are part of the Downtowner Fancy Brigade. I just learned that my (ex) sister-in-law's late father was a member and a hall of Famer! The cost to put this whole thing together cost in excess of $150,000! these guys run fundraisers all year to
get the money to pay for the costumes and floats!
Finally, my favorites... The String Bands!
I love listening to the string bands perform! All those banjos and accordians! These fellows put on quite a performance! These fellows are with the South Philadelphia String Band!
Here's a video of Quaker City String Band performing Adventures in Paradise in 2008. These fellows won 2nd place that year. The video is a little shaky.
There's an update on John's hospital stay right below this post!