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Mummers Parade

Posted on Friday, December 27, 2019

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Mummers Parade 2019

From sea to shining sea, America celebrates New Year's Eve and New Year's Day with many great traditions including parades. In addition to the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California that precedes the Rose Bowl, the Mummers Parade in Philadelphia has been heralded as “America’s New Year’s Day Celebration!”

Mummers Parade (Courtesy: Old Images of Philadelphia)

The Mummers Parade is a signature event that is synonymous with Philadelphia dating back to December 1, 1901. The Mummers Parade is a time honored family tradition in Philly, and the Mummers are iconic to Philadelphia just like the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, soft pretzels and Philly Cheesesteaks.

There are five different divisions in the Mummers Parade including:

  • The Comics offer a satirical look at current events and famous people
  • The Wench Brigades also offer a satirical look at current events and famous people
  • The Fancies dazzle with glitzy costumes
  • The String Bands energetically play various instruments including banjoes, saxophones, percussion and string instruments
  • The Fancy Brigades offer choreographed theatrical extravaganzas

The word "mummer" can be traced to Greek mythology because "momus" was the personification of satire, mockery and censure. The term "mummer" can also be linked to the late Middle English word "mommer" and the Old French word "momeur". Each relates to miming, masking and folk play.

Mummers Parade 2019

About 10,000 adults and children march in the Mummers Parade that is an all-day affair that starts at City Hall and marches down Broad Street to Washington Avenue.

Mummers Program January 1, 1901 (Credit: The Philadelphia Inquirer)

It is interesting to note that in the program above that New Year's Eve in 1900 started with the "grand illumination" of both City Hall and Independence Hall at 8PM.

To learn more about the history of the Mummers, please see this article entitled "How the Mummers came to Philadelphia" as published by The Philadelphia Inquirer on December 28, 2017.

When the Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl in 2018 (Super Bowl LII), there was a Super Bowl Parade that culminated at the Rocky Steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. There was 

Jason Kelsey, Philadelphia Eagles Center, appeared in a Mummers Costume, and he gave a very memorable speech, "An Underdog is a Hungry Dog!"

Insider Information

If you miss the excitement of the Mummers Parade in person on New Year’s Day, you can still experience the Mummers by visiting the Mummers Museum which preserves the uniforms, songs and memorabilia of the past and explains the customs of the Mummers clubs.

Additional Information

For additional information on the Mummers Parade, click here.

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