The Hegeman String Band – Mummers in Philadelphia – Part 2
“The Life of a Mummer”
The History of the Mummers goes back further than many would expect, dating back to the 1600′s and 1700′s. The Mummers in Philadelphia dates back to the mid 1800′s and the first Mummers Parade in Philadelphia was in 1901. If you actually research a lot of this, it’s quite interesting, especially if you are some sort of history buff. For more info, click : History of the Mummers & Mummers in Philadelphia
I have had the distinct pleasure of participating in this years Mummers Parade as a Marshall, thanks to Sarah Lindsay and the Hegeman String Band. If you speak to people, even in the Philadelphia region, many have no idea what goes into the preparation on New Years Day for one of these bands to strut down Broad Street. And I wanted to give a behind the scenes look at what takes place the last several weeks leading up to New Years Day.
The Mummer Experience & Atmosphere with the Hegeman String Band
Mummery is a strong and proud tradition with many, some of which have 3 to 4 generations of Mummers. Some of these String Bands have history dating back 60 to 90 years. The history of the Hegeman String Band is interesting. ~ Click Here ~
Each band has a theme, in which Hegeman’s theme was “Y’All don’t know Dixie.” While I participated with the band the last three days leading up to New Years Day, you could see many faces with the look of anticipation, seriousness, and even some that were nervous, because they wanted to perform at their best. Walking down Broad Street, while doing 5 shows prior to the judging area, is a large stage for many, with many people watching in person or while on tv.
What people fail to realize is that these Mummers practice many times throughout the year, even when it’s cold out. They were lucky this year, with the weather cooperating for the most part. This practice took place on December 18th, 2011 and went for 3 + hours. Not only do you have the band members practicing, but you have some of the Marshalls practicing with the band members. The Marshalls make sure that the scenery and props work within the music, sometimes spinning the scenery around with different backdrops on que with the music. Each band is different, but you could have anywhere from 40 to 80 Marshalls helping out. With Hegeman, there were approximately 75 Marshalls.
As mentioned, there is a lot of pride in being a Mummer. There are a few activities that take place the last two Sundays leading up to New Years Day. There is usually the “crazy hat parade” and the “Santa parade”, where Mummers will march down 2nd street, known as “Two Street” to the Mummers. These parades are just for those to have fun, play their instruments, and bond together as one prior to competing against each other on New Years Day, the Big Stage on Broad Street. Here is a string band marching by the Hegeman Club on Sunday night, December 18th.
There are many club members that work hard and late on the last two days prior to New Years Day. You also have to remember those that actually create the scenery.
John McGarvey did the City Hall and store front scenes. Here is John’s assistant, Scott, who worked on the park scenes. Scott worked on these on Saturday morning, and did finishing touches on Sunday morning. Just shows the hard work and the dedication by many, making sure that an excellent show is put on.
Here is the last day, making sure that the props are finished, and getting an idea of what it will look like. We ended up putting the scenery on the scaffolding New Years Day morning. For many, that day could start any where from 5 am to 7 am in the morning, depending on when your club starts up Broad Street.
The remaining pictures below are just showing you what goes on prior to the walk up Broad Street. Part 3 will be all about New Years Day and the Mummers on Broad Street.
Related Articles About the Mummers in Philadelphia
- The Mummers Parade in Philadelphia – A Long Standing Tradition
- Mummers Museum
- The Hegeman String Band – A Behind the Scenes Interview – Part 1
- The Hegeman String Band – Leading up to New Year’s Day – Part 2
- The Mummers Parade – with the Hegeman Band – Behind the scenes – Part 3
- The Birth of String Bands
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