The Mummers Parade – A Long Standing Philly Tradition

Mummers Parade - Hegeman String Band of 2013

‘Mummers Strutting Up Broad Street – A Long Standing Philly Tradition’

 

Hey Philadelphia, are you ready to strut! The Mummers Parade, which is a New Year’s Day tradition, returns for its 117th year. Nothing like seeing and hearing a String Band performing live in the Mummers Parade which is a one-of-a-kind experience.

What is a Mummer?

Mummers are men and women of all ages, some as young as 12 years old or as old as 70, who belong to clubs that make up the organization called Mummers. The clubs are split into six divisions, the Comics, Fancies, String Bands, Fancy Brigades and new in 2016, the Philadelphia Division.

  • The Comics – The Comics are clowns that dress in colorful outfits, usually with umbrellas, dancing to music supplied by their clubs. Themes often gently parody current events and traditional life. 
  • The WenchesThe wench brigades are an offshoot of the Comic Division and are noted for having live bands and being traditional mummers.
  • The Fancies – The Fancy Division, is made up of four mother clubs, that strut in elaborate costumes to music provided by a live band with small floats.
  • The String Bands – This seems to be the audiences favorite, providing elaborate performances with live music and props. While the costumes are important, the music is the main focus. String bands feature banjos, saxophones, accordions, double basses, drums, glockenspiels and violins in musical arrangements tied to a theme presented by the captain with beautiful costumes and props.
  • The Fancy Brigades – Usually the largest crews with the larger props, who produce tightly choreographed extravaganzas with their elaborate props and precision drilling, march a short part of the parade route, and then head in doors to the convention center for the judging.
  • The Philadelphians – New in 2016, the Philadelphia Division, which won’t be judged, was established to bring cultural diversity to the parade and will feature performances from various ethnic groups that highlight their unique characteristics through music and dance.

Being a Mummer is hard work, with practice during the year. Keep in mind, Mummers do perform at other events throughout the year.

Mummers History

The Mummers in Philadelphia dates back to the mid 1800′s, with several different stories circulating. The first official parade was held January 1, 1901. The Ferko String Band has never missed a parade since they started marching in 1923 and the Hegeman band is one of the oldest String Bands dating back to 1920.

The term “Mummer” is German and means “to costume or masquerade.” The Mummers Parade itself traces back to mid-17th century roots, blending elements from Swedish, Finnish, Irish, English, German and other European heritages, as well as African heritage.

The Mummers Experience

Some of these Mummers have a tradition that spans many generations. Much preparation goes into being a Mummer on New Year’s Day, in which they prepare elaborate costumes and move-able scenery, which take months to complete. This is usually done in their clubhouses, many of which are located on or near 2nd Street, called “Two Street”, which is in the Pennsport neighborhood of South Philadelphia.

One would not know how much work actually goes on behind the scenes. The route to New Year’s Day can be long, but it seems to be such a reward with a long standing tradition once January 1st, New Year’s Day, is over with.

2017 Results

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Where to Watch the Mummers Parade

The Mummers Parade has several types of divisions that start at various locations in South Philly. Starting in 2015, the parade route has been changed.

The Mummers will begin their parade route at Philadelphia’s City Hall and head south along Broad Street to Washington Avenue. The judging area will still be at City Hall at 15th Street and John F. Kennedy Boulevard. After the judging, the Mummers will join the parade heading south on Broad Street. The parade is scheduled to end at Washington Ave, with some clubs still heading east to Second Street for the unofficial “Two Street Parade”.

Best Viewing Areas for Mummers Parade

Some of the best places to view the Mummers Parade are at the steps of the University of the Arts at 320 S. Broad Street. For sidewalk seating, arrive early and set up near one of the locations mentioned below. Another great location is from the judging stands near City Hall, but tickets must be reserved in advance.

Performance Locations

- 16th Street & JFK Boulevard – String Bands will perform their full routines before heading to the judging stands. No bleachers will be provided.

- City Hall, 15th & Market Streets – Full performance with props.

- Broad & Sansom Streets (Union League) – Full performance without props.

- Broad & Carpenter Streets (High School for the Creative & Performing Arts) – Full performance without props. There will be bathrooms, food trucks, a jumbo-tron showing the City Hall performances, and a disc jockey.

Warm-up Locations

- JFK Boulevard from 16th to 18th Streets.

- Benjamin Franklin Parkway from 16th to 20th Streets.

Starting Times

  • 9:00 am: Philadelphia Division (not judged)
  • 9:30 am: Fancy Division
  • 10:00 am: Wench Division
  • 11:00 am: Comic Division
  • 1:00 pm: String Band Division
  • Noon: Fancy Brigade Division  |  Family Show at the Pennsylvania Convention Center
  • 5:00 pm: Fancy Brigade Finale at the Pennsylvania Convention Center
  • 8:00 pm: Fancy Brigade Finale Telecast on PHL 17

If you can’t attend, those local can watch it on PHL17 and fans from around the world will be able to watch the Mummers Parade on a live stream online starting at 10 am. Then at 8 pm, you can use the same link to live stream the Fancy Brigade.

2018 Mummers String Band Parade Order of Marchclick here

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Two Street

Once the Mummers are done with the Parade, they head back to “Two Street”, to where they party all night long, which is home to many of the Mummers’ clubhouses. Some of the bands will march down Two Street, from Federal Street to Morris Street or until they get to their respective club houses. The winner of the Mummers Parade in the String Band Division will always march down Two Street.

Two Street transforms into a multi-block street party that usually continues into the wee hours just like a mini-Mardi Gras.

Location

Beginning at City Hall, the Mummers Parade runs South along Broad Street to Washington Ave

2017 Mummers Parade Route & Marching positions - click here

Date

New Year’s Day  |  January 1, 2018

Time

The Parade begins at 9:00 am and usually ends around 5:00 pm.

Tickets

Online, by phone or in person. For more info, click here

Web Site

Related Articles About the Mummers in Philadelphia

Main Photo: Hegeman String Band

Jeff Belonger

Jeff Belonger has been in the mortgage industry for 19+ years and now wants to do something different. With his experience of blogging and social media, Jeff wants to share all of what Philadelphia has to offer, so he created MyPhillyAlive.com. At MyPhillyAlive, we want to share the excitement that the City of Philadelphia resonates. Sharing the passion within, from the people of Philadelphia. At MyPhillyAlive, we’ll be talking about Philadelphia restaurants, fun bars, the city night life, the history of Philadelphia, Philly attractions & events, the arts, sports, and much more. We want people to add their experiences regarding Philadelphia, even if they are from out of town, which can be done on our Facebook fan page as well. www.facebook.com/MyPhillyAlive At the end of the day, we want to be different from the many Philadelphia sites. We want our site to be easy to navigate, while at the same time, we want you to not only find the hot spots, the best things to do in Philadelphia; but those hidden gems within the city. Thanks...

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Comments

  1. Jonathan Payne says:

    Well this all seems very strange to me haha

Trackbacks

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