After a pandemic hiatus, mummers will once again strut down Broad Street on New Year’s Day, with promises of putting on a family-friendly parade that will avoid the racism exhibited by some members during previous events.
The 2021 parade was cancelled to avoid the spread of COVID-19, though hundreds of mummers still marched through South Philly in what they called a “protest” parade. Before that in 2020, some Mummers who wore blackface prompted Mayor Jim Kenney to threaten ending the parade entirely without immediate changes.
“We’ve been working really hard with the Human Relations (Commission),” said City Councilmember Mark Squilla, who is also a mummer. “We met with them and each member is doing some training and the mummers are taking it very seriously.”
Organizers want to make sure no one is offended, especially by the comics, who perform skits spoofing the news of the past year.
“They understand that this is a big picture to make sure that we stand for everybody,” Squilla said. “We can’t say one division does this or another division does that. So, I think we as members got to stand together and do the right thing and I think training is part of that.”
“The origin of the Mummers Parade has its roots in some of Philadelphia’s immigrant communities,” said Jessica Mazzone with the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. “Our members are committed to showcasing performances that are family friendly and welcoming to all who attend.”
Parks Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell said the parade draws tens of thousands of people to the city each year. She encouraged visitors to book hotel rooms now, and to head to the Independence Visitors Center in Old City to buy tickets to sit in the grandstands. As usual, the event will also be broadcast on WPHL-TV 17 in Philadelphia.
“The musicianship and spectacular costumes and that Philly brand of pageantry all come together to deliver something unique to spectators each year,” she said.
The 2022 parade will follow a route from City Hall to Washington Avenue, and begin with performances by the fancy division, followed by the wenches, comic string bands, and fancy brigades. The parade will begin at 9 a.m. on New Year’s morning at City Hall and North 15th and Market streets. It will continue past several performance checkpoints along Broad Street, and will conclude at Broad and Washington Avenue.
Sam Regalbuto, president of the Mummers String Band Association, said organizers are asking people to be careful if they elect to go out to watch the parade in person.
“We have been working diligently to organize and prepare for this year’s parade and to ensure that it runs according to plan,” Regalbuto said. “We want all the spectators to be able to enjoy this year’s parade. We are asking all attendees and parade participants to please follow city and CDC guidelines regarding mask requirements.”A new parade for Philadelphia to celebrate the holidays