String Bands, Sequins & Struts: New Years Day The Philly Way
A few months ago Chaps had some of the ZBT crew down to see his current hometown of San Antonio. I read up on the history, took the dorky riverboat tour, & rode one of those touristy electric scooters until I almost died when the road switched to cobblestone.
So when it was time for ZBT to come to Philly for the Army/Navy game a few weeks ago I couldn’t wait to show Chaps some of my favorite spots in Philly. The day before the game I took him, Captain Cons & our producer Bren to the Italian Market, the Magic Gardens and South Street, and out for pork sandwiches down at DiNic’s in the Navy Yard.
The day after the game while Chaps waited for his flight I decided to show him some more of my favorite locales.
He wasn’t into much of it, but thankfully he shared the enthusiasm that I do for the Mummers. You know, the Mummers, those guys & gals who spray paint their shoes gold & play the banjo all over the city to ring in the new year. It’s one of my favorite traditions that no one outside of the area seems to know about at all.
The Mummers Parade takes place every New Year’s Day in Philly & I’ve been watching it since I was a little kid. It’s our Mardi Gras of sorts & involves costumed comics, fancies, string bands, and fancy brigades. They compete against each other in front of judges at City Hall who grade their ‘fits, dance moves & musical stylings.
I’ve got family in the Comics Brigade & the whole family takes over a bar in Center City to celebrate with the sequined, costumed, face-painted, and often slightly hammered revelers. Each year I pride myself on making it to the ‘after parade’ on ‘Two Street’ where the Mummers can go nuts & enjoy themselves after the competition is over. Some of my happiest moments have been dancing behind U-Haul trucks with DJs in the back into the depths of South Philly with my cousins until the early hours of January 2nd. I don’t know what that says about me, but it’s true.
Eh, the more I try to explain this phenomenon the more confusing it seems. Enjoying it is way easier than explaining it. Just check out the video to get an idea…
Side note: Many thanks to Joe Bamberski & the Quaker City String Band for taking us on a tour of their clubhouse & letting me live out the dream of strutting (badly) in full attire.
HAPPY NEW YEARS !!!!!! (and go Birds!!!)