By joannearnold, Feb 1 2014 04:15PM
The New Year’s Day Mummer’s Parade in Philadelphia is steeped in tradition and creativity. If you have ever attended an Odyssey of the Mind competition, the Mummer’s Parade is an adult version on steroids.
The parade is a fun filled day which keeps one outdoors, in the cold on January 1st for up to 7 hours. For this one day out of the year, various clubs and organizations spend 365 days getting ready to compete for the best. There are 3 group categories. The ‘Comics’ and ‘Wenches’ are the amateur groups that consist of timed strutting to selected music. It’s good silly fun.
The ‘String Bands’ are the good humored main attraction and are far more than a band. Each group performs in the street trying to out-do the others. Using a theme, they perform with all the bells & whistles in a cleverly choreographed manner like a staged play. However, they are not on a stage, they’re in the middle of the road in the freezing cold. The energy is incredible and the details leave no stone unturned. By the minute, there are many scene changes. The costumes are ornate and colorful. The color alone can make a drab January day magic and the confetti canons only add more.
We’ve all seen the Avalon String Band strut their stuff on Parade Day in Binghamton. It’s easy to get fixated on the movement of strutting. It’s joyful gliding.
The budget on some of these spectacles must be off the chart. The props and scenery are all man-made and man-operated. It’s just like a large theatrical production. The techies wear black and it was cool watching them in action with the performers. These organizations must have huge parking lots to rehearse all the choreographed chaos. It was a treat to see.
The parade can be seen from anywhere on the parade route but it was worth the $20 to watch the performances from the bleachers at the staging area. There was also a sold out repeat performance after the parade in the Convention Center.
January 1st, all bundled up in Philly was a thoroughly entertaining day and a great way to kick off 2014. The liveliness of the performers showed a community spirit that has been in the books for over one hundred years. It’s a tradition worth experiencing even as a spectator.