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Have you ever seen a Mummer?

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Well, two days to New Years, and I couldn’t resist talking about the Mummers exciting march down Broad Street in Philly. For 100 years the mummers have been doing their thing in Philly. From silly Comics, to elaborate Fancy Brigades, to musical String Bands, the Mummers are the New Years day parade to see in Eastern PA.

What is a Mummer? Well according to Fralinger String Band,

The Philadelphia Mummers of today total over 10,000 marchers on New Year’s Day. There are three distinct divisions of the parade: Comic, Fancy, and String Band. Comic division clubs lampoon modern day local and national political and social themes. The Fancy division clubs wear large, ornate costumes, carrying back pieces and performing with floats and props. The String Band division clubs not only wear elaborate costumes like the Fancy division, but also drill and perform playing musical instruments.

The first String Band club was formed in 1901, and featured violins, banjos and guitars. A few years later, drums, saxophones, accordions and glockenspiels were introduced, giving the String Band a unique sound. Parade rules do not permit the use of brass instruments in a String Band. The instrumentation is exclusively saxophones, banjos, accordions, violins, bass violins, and percussion instruments.


The Mummers are as much a part of Philadelphia tradition as Cheesesteaks, Rocky Balboa running up the art museum steps, booing Santa Claus, and the Broad Street Bullies.

As a kid, I remember waking up on New Years day, and flipping on the television to channel 6 (before the parade moved to WB) to watch them strut down Broad Street. My favorites were always the String Bands and their culminating show and judging at City Hall.

I am attending this year’s parade in Person. I am looking forward to it as much as the New Year’s Eve celebration on South Street.

So if you are ever going to Philly, try to schedule it around New Years and catch a true piece of Philly. The Philadelphia Mummers parade.

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