Archive for January 4th, 2010

Yesterday was the annual appearance of the Mummer’s Parade from Philadelphia, which has been going on for a couple of hundred years there although the first “official” parade was held in 1901.  It’s usually held on or around New Year’s Day and fills Broad Street in Philly with incredibly costumed bands playing out pretty ornate choreographed pieces.  The amazing thing is how much effort is put in by the social clubs of that city throughout the year, practicing and making the stunning costumes, for the five minutes or so they get in the spotlight.

The idea of the Mummer’s Parade is derived from the Mummer’s Plays of medieval Europe where groups of costumed performers went door to door, acting out their simple plays which had many regional variations but normally involved a Hero being killed by some sort of evil opponent then being revived by a Doctor of sorts, usually on the day after Christmas.  It has survived in many parts of the world and is still often practiced during the holiday season with revelers going from home to home, singing and accepting drinks and such from their hosts.

They show part of the parade annually on WGN , the nationally broadcast superstation out of Chicago, and we always watch at least part of it.  It’s a great scene and you have to admire the dedication these groups have for the tradition of this parade.  Cheri has often said that it would be a great setting for a movie from Christopher Guest and company, of Best in Show, A Mighty Wind and Waiting For Guffman fame.  These movies usually have self-contained environments and casts of really interesting characters.  Perfect fit for this parade. Maybe Murder at the Mummers?

Here’s an example of one of the string bands, one of the different competing divisions:

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