Sunday, January 6, 2019

Now for Something Completely Different: the Mummers Parade

The Mummers Parade, an  iconic Philadelphia tradition, held their first event on January 1, 1901. Though I have heard about it for many years, it took until this year before I ventured into South Philadelphia to see it for myself.

I have this vague recollection that Don and I met up with Kevin one July to see the Mummers Parade. Though it is clearly a January 1st event, we caught wind of one happening in the middle of summer, and figured the weather would be nicer. I'm sure there are pros and cons to July versus January, but their heavy costumes are not made for the heat of summer. This happened before I started blogging, which makes my research harder.

The only confirmed time I have seen the Mummers is the one band that marches up and down Thompson Street in Bordentown on Halloween. One of the residents is a Mummer and invites his band for a concert on the crowded street.

So Don and I went. Ashley stayed home with a bad cold.

The weather was stunning -- sweatshirt weather, no rain, minimal wind. As a result, there were record crowds. Don and I enjoyed the nice weather before heading into Philadelphia around 1pm. From what I had read, the parade goes from 9am until 4pm. I had no interest in watching a parade for seven hours. I had never even watched the event on TV. I had not appreciated how much of a "hurry-up-and-wait" event it is. I guess they need to allow space for commercials? The bands hang out, take pictures with spectators, chat with their friends along the route and wait for the magic moment to GO. Then they march a few hundred feet playing music before stopping in front of a reviewing stand to perform. The crowds are most dense in front of the reviewing stands (no surprise there) with people literally camping out in prize spots. I could not get close enough to take a photo, but one group was hanging out couches and brought milk crates to stand on for stadium seating. I wanted to ask them if they brought the sectional plush couches with them, or if they were lucky enough to find them on the street? How early do you have to arrive to set up such an elaborate arrangement? How long before you haul away your set up? They were in front of McDonald's on Broad Street (a street filled with businesses) so it was not as if they were in their front yard. It amazed me.

There are many different categories of Mummers. Rather than spouting off a bunch of inaccurate "facts," I'll allow you to do your own research. I can tell you they marched down Broad Street, bringing back memories of when I did the Broad Street Run in 2011. Maybe I should aim for that race again this year.

Don and I walked around soaking up the street party. That's what it boiled down to -- a sanctioned reason to drink outside and hang out with friends. The parade is just the excuse. I'm sure there are people who really get into the different costumes, and dances, and styles, but not us. I am glad to have finally seen it live, and at 60 degrees instead of 2018's 10 degrees, but I don't see this turning into an annual tradition.

Some pictures from this year's parade.

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