A year ago, I used to live at the intersection of 16th and Walnut Streets. For those not familiar with Philadelphia, that’s like the heart of the city. Rittenhouse Square is just two blocks away. The Apple Store is literally across the street. And, last New Years Day, I wandered outside my door to be greeted by dozens of people in costume. People with whistles shouting down the streets. People wandering the streets totally inebriated at noon. I have to be honest: I was completely confused as to what was going on. And then some kind person responded my look of confusion by explaining to me it was “The Mummers Parade.” Of course, it took me looking it up and reading about it before I realized that in Philadelphia it’s a big freaking deal. And, by that point it was too late to partake in the fun.
But this year I promised myself that no matter what I had going on on the first of January that I’d make it over there for at least a few minutes. And that I did. Actually, I made it over once to realize I forgot a memory card…. went back home to get it and then forgot my jacket. So, I ended up staying for about an hour which, considering it was 40 degrees and I was jacket-less with the winds blowing down Broad Street, is pretty impressive. And shows how amazing it must have been for me to have stayed. And my resolve at the end of it? Next year I’ll be even better prepared and stay the whole day. Seriously, it was amazing, and the best part? Totally free.
And, I just have to give mad props to the participants…. they apparently spend the entire year designing the costumes, themes, props, dances etc. and it totally shows. Some of these performances were really unreal. Unfortunately, since I was only there for an hour or so, I only caught a handful of the string bands [there are other types of performances as well], but they definitely didn’t disappoint. I’m just disappointed I only had one camera, one lens, and one hour. I could have had so much fun there all day. Here are a few of my favorites….
The giant crowd corralled at Spruce and Broad Streets. Normally, I’m not into giant throngs of drunk people. But this crowd was so different – everyone was having so much fun and really into it. Smiling, dancing, singing, cheering…. what’s not to love?
I’ve never seen the street so packed. Seriously…. I wish I had a wider lens for this!
So, the first string band was one that I missed. But, I managed to snag a couple shots as they walked by [shooting over someone else's head, mind you].
They were the Ferko String Band and their theme was titled “The Carnival Comes To Town.”
I’m bummed I missed the show because people on the street were whispering it was one of the best.
Next up was the Quaker City String Band with “A Toys Night Out.”
It definitely felt like Nutcracker + Old Nintendo + Toy Story to me, which I totally loved.
Oh and those teddy bears [below]? Totally playing the cellos. How? I have no idea.
Then, there was the Avalon String Band with “Avalon in Wonderland.”
I’m trying not to show too much bias here, but anything with an Alice in Wonderland theme tugs at my heartstrings. [Remember, book nerd over here.] The cheshire cats, the giant caterpillar, the rabbits with the giant pocketwatches, the cards. It was incredible. I almost wish I could have watched it a few times just to catch all the little details!
My favorite shot of the day [below].
Then there was the Greater Kensington String Band with “Haunted Harmonies.” It was super creepy, but their costumes were awesome.
Then, there was the Greater Overbrook String Band with “Fire Fightin’ Follies.” Apparently, several of them really are firefighters, which is pretty awesome.
Lastly, there was the Original Trilby String Band with “Hoodoo Voodoo….We Do.”
Sadly, I only snagged a couple of these before I ducked out, but thought their show was great too.
So, what about you? Did you do anything fun for New Years Day? Have you ever been to the Mummers Parade? I can’t be the only one now obsessed with this tradition…