Saturday, January 1, 2011

Comics! Wenches! Mummers!

What am I doing on New Years Day? The same thing I do every New Year's Day.  I watch the Mummer's Parade. Besides the Phillies, nothing represents Philly pride to me more than the Mummers.

(If you don't know what a Mummer is, I urge you to Google it.  You will never see anything like this in any part of the country or the world.  The costumes. The music. The comraderie. The merriment. It is all part of the Mummers tradition. And I love it.)

When I was a kid, it was a family tradition to watch the parade in our PJs and keep track of our favorites.  When we saw the theme of the band, we would try to guess the songs that they were going to play.  Then, we play "Name that Tune" and guess what song they are playing on the banjos.  It isn't easy to recognize a song on the banjo but we did our best.

The most important part of watching the Mummer's parade was keeping our Parade Chart updated. Let me explain.  Each string band has a name and each year they base their performance on a theme.  On January 2nd, the awards are announced and they only give the name of the string band.  Now, we don't know the Quaker City string band from the Polish American string band, but we remember the theme! Basically, if we don't write down the theme - we won't know who won. So the list must be kept. We pick our favorites and see if the judges agree. It is just part of the tradition.

I secretly always wanted to be a Mummer - to get dressed up and march down Broad Street with my umbrella in hand is something that would bring me great joy. But, being a Mummer is serious business. You have to join a club, practice and attend rehearsals for 6 months prior to the parade, learn an instrument (unfortunately, I can't roll my piano down Broad Street) and learn the dance routines. 

I think this will always be a pipe dream, but I can still show my support by watching every year in my pajamas with my chart in hand.
Happy New Year to all!