It's a surreal celebration of freedom, creativity, theatre, self-expression, and the beauty of family and friends and life in the cold winter in Philadelphia each New Year's. It's the Mummers.
And if you have ever strutted there, or at a wedding or wake, you know what I mean. If not, get to the parade and learn what tradition and freedom and family and hard work and American know-how can create and celebrate!
Here We Stand Before your door
As we stood the year before
Give us whiskey, give us gin
Open the door and let us in
Or better give us something hot.
A steaming bowl of pepper pot.
WHO DAT FROGGY CARR! Read about him here: http://www.froggycarr.homestead.com/ClarkDeleoncolumn.html
I was at 2006 New Year's Mummers Parade with my immediate family in a hotel off Broad Street called The Latham Hotel. My Philadelphia family gathered at my brother's house on American street in Society Hill. It was built during he Mexican-American war and has a privy in the back and a cobble stone street in front. Independence Hall, Carpenter's Hall, the Liberty Bell, National Constitution Center, Betsy Ross's House, and other sites in the most historical square mile in America are only a few blocks from American street.
What a day! WHO DAT! WHO DA! WHO DAT FROGGY CARR! Find out here: http://www.froggycarr.homestead.com/
The mummers are a miracle, and my poem below is my effort to thank them for all their love, and affection and hard work that put a big smile on my father's face, brings one to mine each New Year's, and makes my wife and sons laugh and laugh and stare in wonder to rediscover simple fun and a depth of entertainment Hollywood could never imagine...let alone imitate.
They sit in an back alley
At Juniper and Market,
Having marched 9 miles
Pushing props and stages
Dressed in a black outfit
That does not take attention
From the plumes and sequins
Of the up-front show mummers,
These marshals finally rest, 9 miles later,
After miles of walking up
Mummer's Parade of 2005
Where they never got to strut,
To prance, to show off,
To enjoy the crowd, the applause
Or the recognition of the media
In this-media driven society.
Like working men everywhere,
They do their job quietly,
Far in the background
With no complaint or brag,
The job well done satisfaction enough
And the smiles on the faces of children
The extra bonus, the Mummer's Miracle
Until, laid out in their coffin at the wake,
As mourner after mourner at the kneeler prays,
It is said so many times, but never
Loses its genuine feel and grace
�He was a good man, Lord.
He worked hard.
He took good care of his family.
Make a place for him in Heaven, Lord.
He deserves it. He was such a good man."
And the string band Ferko
And join him
for one more march down Broad,
To a City Hall where he is not judged,
But welcomed with O Dem golden Slippers
By hundreds of thousands of mummers
Who make the journey before him
And becomes one more saint they sing about
In When the Saints Come Marching In.
If you go the the andipantz website below, created by Andrea K. Gingerich, you will see some excellent photos of the 2005 Philadelphia Mummer's Parade. Andrea does a sublime job of capturing the mood and the characters that make the Philadelphia New Year's Mummer's Parade such a work of collective genius. http://flickr.com/photos/andipantz/tags/mummers/
Or, try this link and scroll down to the bottom of the page for some of Andrea's other photos about the Mummer's photos. http://www.andipantz.com/archives/2005_01.html
As STRUT! the "feel-good award-winning DVD documentary about a truly American phonomenon" puts it, "one day a year, the working people of Philadelphia rule." "Each New Year's Day, electricians, longshorema, plumbers, cops, and other working class wizards transofrm the City of brotherly Love into the world capital of surrealism...the real flavor comes from the Mummers themselves, who personify what we hold most dear: The mandate of freedom and self-expression...the power of family and fraternity...the lessons fo the immigrant experience....and the extraordinary inclusiveness and tolerance of everyone except the competition." You can order a copy of STRUT! here: http://www.strutthemovie.com/
Here are a few websites to visit to get more information about those Miracle Mummer's.