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"Mummer's Day Parade" Philadelphia Things to Do Tip by KiKitC

Philadelphia Things to Do: 825 reviews and 1,480 photos

  "Driving Miss Crazy"
by KiKitC
  • "Driving Miss Crazy" - Philadelphia
      "Driving Miss Crazy"
    by KiKitC
  • Bonz - Philadelphia
    by KiKitC

What are you doing New Year's Day? You could be like the other 15,000 participants in the Mummer's Day Parade held in Philly each New Year's Day for the past 104 years! Starting at 8:30 am...YES...and running 12 hours, this is one great day of reveling. The first group to march are the comics. I know, because this was my first year IN the parade. We competed against three other comic groups, in categories such as "Original Costume," "Couples," "Character Costume," "Floats" and more.

This year the temperature was 65 degrees, with full sunshine and remains one of the most funfilled days I've ever had. My husband and I both entered individually in the "Original Costume" category. Due to the great weather, my chosen costume held up to the elements. I created a classic car costume out of balloons, complete with a balloon horn. Under the costume, I put a real horn from a 1911 Oldsmobile (with squeeze ball operation). My theme was "Driving Miss Crazy," and I strutted around honking my horn and yelling "Happy New Year." I didn't hear anything about the winners until 9:30 pm, when I got a call that I won first! Whoppeee!

The parade marches up Broad Street then turns onto Market, where the performance competitions take place. You're in for a long day of colorful costumes, great music and fun fun fun.

The tradition of mummery began around 400 BC, with the Roman Festival of Saturnalias. Latin laborers paraded in satirical masks, calling for food and drink. A Celtic touch of "trick-or-treat" soon mixed in, as did a Druid practice of noise-making to drive away demons for the new year. These rowdy crowds have hit the streets of Philadelphia, even prior to the American Revolution!

During the 17th century, the Swedish immigrants continued this Christmastime tradition. Philadelphia was a melting pot of cultures, and as time passed, these yearly celebrations began to include other culturial traditions.

In 1901, these celebrations became a more organized event. "Momer" is French for "to wear a mask" so, the Mummer's Day Parade was born. Around 15,000 people prepare for this event, by making elaborate costumes, flawless recitals and synchronized stepping. Nearly a million spectators line Broad Street watching the paraders.

The parade is broken up into four divisions: Comics, Fancy, String Band, and Fancy Brigade. The Comics represent the personification of Momus, the Greek God of mockery, blame, ridicule, scorn, raillery and stinging criticism who was expelled from heavenfor the ridicule of the Gods. In our character costumes, the comics continue the tradition of clowning and lampoon.

Following the Comics, the String Bands and Fancy Brigades offer full pageantry of intricate and colorful costumes. The string bands please the crowds with their prefectly practised playing.

Address: Marches up Broad St, performances held on Market S

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Feb 8, 2010
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