Oh boy, the time has come for another exciting beginning for the New Year, 2015 has arrived and the Mummers are the best way to begin the New Year. What are the Mummers you say, a group of mad men and woman who dress in crazy ela borate costumes, with millions of sequins hand sown on. They brave the cold freezing elements of Philadelphia’s mean streets, strutting down with a wild frenzied purpose.
New Year’s Eve has always been my holiday, and celebrating in different countries was the way I liked to celebrate. But I could never understand why some of my friends would stay in and be low key that night, just so they would be in good shape for New Years day. My buddy Chris always said that the Mummers were the only way to celebrate for New Years, and now I am starting to agree with him. Plus the party on Two Street at the end of the night is absolutely insane, the craziest party in town all year.
Last year I went into the history of the Mummers, and broke down all the different groups. You can check out the link to learn more about that. This year I was sad to hear one of the top string groups, The Original Trilby String Band, would not be playing this year, due to financial problems and not getting enough new membership. The amount of time that they train for, months ahead of the big day, and the thousands of dollars that they pay for their costume, is making it cost prohibitive for people to join in. I know I don’t have that kind of money for an outfit that I would wear one day of the year. But for there to be no mummers would be like not having Independence Hall any more. And as far as I know there has never been any crazy parties at Independence Hall, not even when the Constitution was signed. So this would be devastating thing for the city. And they are not the only troupe in trouble. The city used to grant prize money for the show, which would help, but now they don’t because of the cost of clean up. Come on City Hall, the Mummers are Philly, they help put us on the map, so lets get a compromise here. How much money are we paying to have the Pope here, really?
If you want to learn more about the Mummers before New Years, you can always stop by the Mummers Museum at 2nd and Washington. Here you can see detailed looks at the costumes, meet some of the dancers, and learn how to do the Mummers Strut.
There are four main categories of revelers, the Clowns, the Fancies, the String Bands, and the Fancy Brigades.
The Clowns are for comedy, and their costumes are very amusing. They run, do skits, hop over each other, and anything they can do for amusement. This is the largest group, and tends to be the craziest. Often their costumes will be parodies of current events.
The Fancies costumes are really akin to birds of paradise, with fabulously elaborate and ornate costumes, bedazzles to the max, lavished with feathers and furs.
The String Bands are just that, with costumes classier than the clowns, but nowhere near the Fancies. They bring their instruments along and keep the beet and rhythm of the parade. They are limited to acoustic instruments, no electric.
Then there are the Fancie Brigades, which are like the fancies, but with moving floats and many more characters. Their costumes, props, and gear are so intensive, that they now perform inside the convention center for fear of it being destroyed by the elements.
So if you are in Philly, go out, see the parade and enjoy. Because this is a working class parade, meant for the people.