Thursday, November 17, 2005


Mummer's Strut

I thought I'd introduce you to a little unique PA culture. Ever heard of a Mummer? Nope - neither had I until we moved here, about an hour from Philadelphia.
Philadelphia has a traditional New Years Parade called The Mummer's Parade. This year is was the "103rd annual" and it's an extravaganza of which the locals are VERY PROUD. To the rest of the world - we just shake our head in disbelief. There are a plethora of Mummer's clubs in Philly, and each plans it's own theme based perfomance for the parade. Some clubs are string band clubs, who march and perform on banjos, accordians, saxaphones and glokcenspeils (spelling doesn't count). There are also comic brigades that are primarily a bunch of satiric clowns, or a group guys in ridiculous drag, and THE FANCIES. The fancies march and dance in the most elaborate costumes of all. Some of these costumes cost upwards of $20,000 each!
This parade is kind of a combination of Mardi Gras and Carnivale. It is grand in color and the costumes are eccentric in design. Fancy costumes may be twice as tall as the man wearing it and all feathers and sequens. Sometimes the costume is more like a float that is worn. Often the club has a huge rolling backdrop for their performance. This is so popular in Philly that about 15,000 (that's right - thousand) participants march. I have to correct myself here, they don't march, the proper term is STRUT! Though the parade route is only about 2 miles long, this string of strutters lasts up to NINE HOURS!
I will say - I have never personally witnessed the Mummer's parade. Somehow, standing on a street curb on January 1st for nine hours leaves something to be desired. It is broadcast on TV - but I can't imagine sitting and watching it in its entirity. To me, after you've seen a couple of the groups, they start to look the same. Occastionally at an event in Philly there will be one of these Mummer clubs present and it leaves me shaking my head - speechless. To this midwestern girl, it's sort of like stepping into OZ. Just imagine - a heavily mustached and bearded guy (big guy) dressed like Bo Peep complete with parasol! By the way, parasols are a standard part of many "uniforms".
Written by
sunflowerkat321 .

In Eugene (Oregon), they have the slug parade, complete with a "slug queen..." Don't ask. Eugene is a country unto itself. Us midwesterners just have to get over ourselves, I guess... Lisa :-]Comment from mlraminiak - 1/4/04 12:09 AM

Um . . . why would a big guy with a moustache and beard want to dress like Bo Peep. On second thought, forget I asked. :-) Sounds like quite the spectacle.Comment from somenuttychic - 1/3/04 11:44 AM

I just visited to learn more. Fascinating. And weird.Comment from chefgracegeorge - 1/2/04 5:40 PM