One of my first grade classmates would march in the Mummers Parade with his father. I don't remember his name, but I remember his Halloween costume. It was over the top and clearly from one of the fancy brigades since it was covered in rhinestones and feathers. Our teacher made it clear that he couldn't win the costume contest since it was clearly "cheating," but my six year old logic didn't see how my Casper the Friendly Ghost costume bought at the local Woolworth's was any less cheating than his magnificent regalia.
Mummers ( from the Greek "Momus" for satire and mockery) have been bringing in the New Year to the streets of Philadelphia since the 17th Century, but the first city sanctioned parade wasn't until 1901. Women were not officially allowed to march in the parade until the 1970's (though I'm sure they had a hand in making the costumes!!!) so for centuries men would publicly defy gender expectations and prance around in drag to their hearts content. There was even a prize for best female impersonator.
Enjoy the finery and tomfoolery that can only be seen on the streets of Philly.
Happy New Year!!!
As always, please feel free to comment on my blog post and share with friends.
See you next year!
A participant flanked by two "real" women in 1902
South Philadelphian, Frank Carter, from the Passyunk Club almost always
won first or second place from 1909 to 1928.
Mae West, move over!
This is such a classic Philly photo. It could be any neighborhood in Philly.
Here's a perfect representation of full Fancy Regalia.
I can hear the song Golden Slippers just by looking at this.
But, as a true Philadelphian, my heart will always belong to the Comic Division.
More Mummer Shenanigans!
Here's a photo from 2017 with a one of the Fancy Brigades doing their grand performance in front of City Hall.
And last but not least, here's a video of the string band in full swing.