Friday, January 02, 2009

Philly Phridays #19: The Mummers!

When I first moved away from Philadelphia, I was appalled that no one in Illinois knew what The Mummers were.


The Mummers were such an integral part of my childhood, it was like someone not knowing what Christmas was.


Anyway, for those of you who have no idea of the beauty, joy, exhaustion, revelry, rivalry, and general drunken Philliness that is the 8 hour long New Year's Day Mummer's Parade (only 6.5 hours this year though, WTF?), here’s a brief synopsis. I could paraphrase it, but why on earth should I, when Wikipedia exists for the sole purpose of lazy bloggers such as myself?

The Mummers Parade is held each New Year's Day in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 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 movable 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 South Philadelphia, which also serve as social gathering places for members.

You can read the rest of Wikipedia's entry here.

New Year is a year round event, seriously.

It starts with the hangover on January 3 (January 2nd is spent sleeping).

Then the majority of the year is fundraising, planning, organizing, choreography, rehearsals, rehearsals, rehearsals and more rehearsals. In between all that are appearances at other parades and performances around the country.

After Christmas, you go to MummersFest at the Convention Center and watch the floats being finalized and the musicians and dancers rehearsing. After Midnight Mass on New Year’s, a decision is made between the City and Presidents of the Four Divisions if the parade will take place on New Year’s Day, or be moved to a different date due to weather conditions. This usually happens around 4AM ish. If all is a go, then New Year’s Day in Philly looks and sounds a little like this:

and a little like this

and a little like this (my favorite video):

And by the time it’s over, if you hear ‘When the Saints Go Marching In’ one more time, you swear you’ll kill someone.

Down on Two Street you can visit the Mummer’s Museum and then head on over to Snockey's for great seafood.

That's all for this week's round up on Philadelphia in preparation for next July's Philadelphia Adoptee Rights Demonstration. Me personally, after genealogical research has uncovered that my adoptive and natural families were affiliated with competing clubs of the same Division, I'm awash with conflicted adoptee loyalties. I have to go lay down now.

Happy New Year!

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