New Year's in Philly: Mummers Parade Extends Holiday

One of the things that’s always bothered me about the New Year’s holiday is that for all the hype it gets, it comes and goes in the flash of a firework and before you know it the holidays are over and you’re nursing a hangover, cleaning up from the previous night’s party, telling yourself you’ll start your New Year’s workout plan tomorrow.

I have certainly fallen victim to the above pitfall in the past (as well as the post-holiday blues), so this year some friends and I decided to check out the infamous Mummers Parade and keep the celebration going one more day.

Mummers Parade in Philadelphia. Photo by Andrea Ramsdell.

Quick backstory: The Mummers Parade happens every year on New Year’s Day in Philadelphia. Broad Street shuts down, and local clubs don bright costumes and instruments and march towards city hall, stopping every few blocks to put on an extended performance complete with moving stage props, dancing, and lots of confetti (click here for the full details of the parade’s history, origins, and participants).

A mid-morning wake up on Sunday put us in the city around noon, and we parked in Old City and took a cab up to Broad and Christian where we posted up on the street. Philadelphia police were completely looking the other way, and we drank beers on the curb, watching the parade go by and occasionally covering an unsuspecting friend with silly string. The aura on the streets is completely loose, very festive yet controlled and relaxed.

That becomes less and less the case as the day pushes on and night sets in – the Mummers themselves taking part in the drinking aspect of the tradition. Later that night we saw plenty of street parties, which were much more intense than the celebrations that occurred earlier along Broad Street (hip-hop music that could be heard three or four blocks away, for example).

Not exactly my scene, but it highlights an important point: For me, the best part of the parade/day was the people watching, and we certainly saw some awfully interesting characters. The Mummers are a riot when they interact with the crowd, especially after they get a few drinks in them. The diversity of the city shines through, from fathers with strollers to free spirits with brown bags (see photo). When we found ourselves back in Old City after sunset, the common collegiate showcase took over: street dancing and friends helping friends.

For a short video of one such performance, check out Wake and Wander on Facebook.

View of Center City Philadelphia from Old City. Photo by Andrea Ramsdell.
Photo by Andrea Ramsdell.
Photo by Andrea Ramsdell.
Photo by Andrea Ramsdell.
Photo by Will McGough.
Photo by Andrea Ramsdell.
Photo by Will McGough.
Photo by Will McGough.
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