As Mummers Parade returns to mark 2022, Philadelphians hopeful for the new year

Mummers Parade 2022. (Tennyson Donyéa, WHYY)

Mummers Parade 2022. (Tennyson Donyéa, WHYY)

The Mummers Parade returned to Philadelphia Sunday — one day after it had been postponed because of rain and one year after the 2021 parade was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Though the pandemic rages on, thousands of people flocked to Broad Street in Center City on Sunday to strut in one of the longest running and controversial celebrations in the city’s history. It was also the first year participants needed to show they had undergone sensitivity training, the city’s response to previous incidents of racism, sexism, and transphobia in an effort to preserve the parade as a New Year’s tradition unique to Philadelphia.

 The Mummers Parade returned to Broad Street for 2022. (Tennyson Donyéa, WHYY)
The Mummers Parade returned to Broad Street for 2022. (Tennyson Donyéa, WHYY)

On an uncharacteristically warm January day, some in the smaller-than-usual crowd of parade-goers said there is much to look forward to in 2022.

“I’m not used to coming out to the Mummers Parade in 60 degree weather, but I’m a Philadelphian, born and raised,” said John McGonigal, of Philadelphia. “The Mummers Parade has always been in my blood.

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John McGonigal dances with the Mummers along the parade route near City Hall. (Tennyson Donyéa, WHYY)
John McGonigal dances with the Mummers along the parade route near City Hall. (Tennyson Donyéa, WHYY)

“It’s a good feeling,” he added. “The camaraderie down here is always amazing. And this shows what the City of Brotherly Love is really about.”

This year, McGonigal is looking forward to his wedding, a day he has been planning for months.

“My new year’s resolution is to wake up, thank God, and continue to do it,” he said.

The 121st Mummers Parade came as the U.S. deals with yet another surge in coronavirus cases, this time driven by the contagious omicron and delta variants. Some brigades declined to participate in this year’s parade, citing concerns about the virus. On Monday, Philadelphia will begin enforcing a vaccine mandate for all indoor dining locations, from restaurants and movie theaters to sports arenas.

 The Mummers Parade returned to Broad Street for 2022. (Tennyson Donyéa, WHYY)
The Mummers Parade returned to Broad Street for 2022. (Tennyson Donyéa, WHYY)

Some mummers incorporated face masks into their elaborate sequined costumes, and several groups paid tribute to health care workers battling the pandemic.

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“In 2022, I’m looking forward to health and happiness,” said Gwendolyn Bell, of Philadelphia, who was pleased to see many parade attendees maintaining physical distance and wearing masks.

Gwendolyn Bell, an 18-year Philadelphia resident stands along the parade route on 15th street, near City Hall. (Tennyson Donyéa)

“I don’t think the crowd is really big, and, hopefully, everyone’s vaccinated, and they’re concerned about other people,” Bell said.

In the new year, some are looking forward to solutions to the city’s gun violence epidemic; more than 550 people were murdered in 2021, a loss far greater than any other year since police began tracking these statistics in 1960.

“I hope all the gun violence stops,” said Rodney Brown, visiting from Atlanta. “And [that people] get along with each other.”

“God said to treat people like you want to be treated,” he added.

 The Mummers Parade returned to Broad Street for 2022. (Tennyson Donyéa, WHYY)
The Mummers Parade returned to Broad Street for 2022. (Tennyson Donyéa, WHYY)

Many parade-goers said they are simply looking for a return to normalcy — and maybe even a fresh start.

“Whatever normalcy consists of … I look forward to [it],” McGonigal said. “I just want to be able to be shoulder to shoulder with strangers at concerts.”

In the new year, some are looking forward to solutions to the city’s gun violence epidemic; more than 550 people were murdered in 2021, a loss far greater than any other year since police began tracking these statistics in 1960.

“I hope all the gun violence stops,” said Rodney Brown, visiting from Atlanta. “And [that people] get along with each other.”

“God said to treat people like you want to be treated,” he added.

Many parade-goers said they are simply looking for a return to normalcy — and maybe even a fresh start.

“Whatever normalcy consists of … I look forward to [it],” McGonigal said. “I just want to be able to be shoulder to shoulder with strangers at concerts.”

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