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Mummers might want to skip most of South Philly this year

UPDATE: South Philly resident (and friend of the Passyunk Post) has started a campaign to keep the Mummer strutting through South Philly, including this Facebook page: Keep the Mummers Struttin’ in South Philly.

The Mummers are considering a new New Year’s Day parade route that would start at City Hall and head south only to Washington Avenue, rather than starting at Oregon and going north.

The Inquirer reports that parade organizers are mulling the change because the repeated stops and starts have made it less fun to perform and to watch. Judging would happen at the start of the parade, rather than the end, meaning that brigades would flow past spectators.

But why stop at Washington Avenue, skipping the traditional heart of the parade route?

Says the paper:

The proposed change seems in part a result of demographic shifts the city has undergone. South Philadelphia once was home to large populations of migrants from Ireland and Italy, who produced both Mummers and crowds along the route. Those populations have thinned and been replaced by new immigrant groups – Asians and Hispanics – with fewer ties to the parade.

Now … Broad Street on parade day can be largely empty south of Washington, [said Leo Dignam, the city's deputy commissioner for parks and recreation]. “All those Mummers marching up south of Washington are really marching to nobody now,” he said.

What do you think? Does this sound like a good idea?



18 Responses to Mummers might want to skip most of South Philly this year

  1. Jake August 6, 2014 at 2:26 pm #

    “Now … Broad Street on parade day can be largely empty south of Washington, [said Leo Dignam, the city's deputy commissioner for parks and recreation]. “All those Mummers marching up south of Washington are really marching to nobody now,” he said.”

    Are we talking about the same Broad Street? I walked the length from Oregon to Washington during the parade. Every block was packed full of people.

    • Angela S August 6, 2014 at 3:48 pm #

      Agreed. I’ve never seen a block that hasn’t been crammed until at least noon or 1PM for the parade. There is a little more breathing room between Oregon and Snyder (although not much), but that’s because not all the brigades begin that far south.

  2. John August 6, 2014 at 4:39 pm #

    “because the repeated stops and starts have made it less fun to perform and to watch.?”

    Really? These aren’t the mummers I have grown up to know and love. The would stop and perform in front of the Methodist Hospital, and year after year is was PACKED with people! They went from performing at four stops in South Philly (Shunk, Wolf, Snyder and McKean) to just stopping at Shunk Street. Honestly, isn’t the “Parade” day THE day the string bands wait for? Whhhaaaaa, go cry in your golden slippers. The year starts out ruined for me and my family. Open house turns into locked doors.

  3. Derek August 7, 2014 at 11:25 am #

    They are right to try to re-think the parade, whether or not this is the right way. It is a terribly run, boring parade.

  4. Kim August 7, 2014 at 1:55 pm #

    This is a proposal that will have detrimental effects on our neighborhood, on the parade itself, and on our city. South Philly is the heart of the Mummers Parade and we need to speak up to keep it here and brainstorm new ways to keep it firmly rooted.

    Please reach out to your City Council person and to the Mummers organization to tell them how much the parade means to you! Let’s keep the conversation going on this facebook cause page “Keep the Mummers Struttin’ in South Philly” — And please help spread the word!

  5. Jacob August 7, 2014 at 2:16 pm #

    People need to move on from the past of the parade. It is currently a dying historical artifact. It can take up to 15 minutes in between the different groups, who wander listlessly and drunkenly up Broad Street. There are great aspects to it, but it needs modification to survive. I do agree it should remain connected to South Philly, which is where 90% of the people who actually care about it live, but something needs to change.

  6. c'mon August 7, 2014 at 10:32 pm #

    Scrap the whole thing. Honestly, its an embarrassment and continues the low brow hard life image of this city. Shopping carts and miserable people in make up looking like fools. I watched a clown scold a kid on tv last year lol. South Philly is changing, it is evolving from a rough life mentality to a cultured hot spot from young professionals to culinary geniuses. Embrace it, its good for everyone.

    • jr August 8, 2014 at 6:00 am #

      short-sighted gentrifying yuppie perspective. when did you move to south philly, a year ago?

      like it or not, the mummers are an important and unique part of philadelphia. there’s nothing like it anywhere else in america. i can only assume that you don’t know anybody in a club, because you might have a different perspective if you did.

      • AnthonyG August 8, 2014 at 8:34 am #

        @jr: don’t forget that hookers are a big part of Mummery!

      • c'mon August 8, 2014 at 10:17 am #

        Own a home here 5 years. Yuppie? No. Plenty of mummers on my block, all the same miserable outlook and slobs. Thanks for proving my point with your ignorance.

  7. Westphilly August 7, 2014 at 10:40 pm #

    I am all for trying out different ideas to address the problems the parade does have – start it later, start it from city hall, but why stop it at Washington? Let it go from city hall to at least Snyder?

  8. sc August 8, 2014 at 7:26 am #

    We moved to South Philly a few years ago, and have attended the parade every year. It’s a great tradition, and we started to taking our kid once she was born. It’d be a shame for it to stop at Washington.

  9. Kevin August 9, 2014 at 9:21 am #

    Bad ideas. People want to see a parade. Not a group of old men standing around. Go the reverse route. Drop the props and march south and actually play. Living around here. That is what people complain ab. More time watching people push props and not playing.

  10. Constance August 9, 2014 at 2:20 pm #

    It could use some updating but this isn’t the way to go. One reason for the supposed lack of viewers below Washington is the length of the parade. It starts early in the morning and ends at night. Tighten up the length between brigades/bands and the crowds would be on the street. Of course it doesn’t help that the fancies don’t march at all now and will only perform, for paid admission, in the Convention Center.

    • Jim Bradley August 13, 2014 at 12:04 pm #

      Not true, the Fancy Brigades have always marched from Oregon Ave. to Washington Ave. after the String Bands since beining in the convention center. So i guess your not on south Broad watching or you would know that.

  11. Dan P. August 12, 2014 at 11:10 am #

    I will admit to having thought at one time that this was a tradition that had run its course. I bought into the reports that the crowds were no longer as big as they used to be and that no one really cared anymore. Then I moved to South Philly a couple blocks from Broad and have been invited a few times to a home on Broad to watch the parade go by. I’ve done a complete 180 and can appreciate how the parade can be a great focal point to celebrate the start of the new year. I’ve also attended practices and known people who are in string bands and realize how much work they put into it and how seriously they take it. Yes… it has its flaws: (1) the length of time between groups, (2) how most of the route the string bands are just dragging their props along and not playing the whole time, (3) and now, I guess, that the tension of having to perform makes it not even very fun for them at that point.

    If they want to continue to be judged on the very elaborate, prop-filled routines they do then it seems like a good idea to do that first, early in the morning, in front of the cameras up at City Hall but also have at least one part of the set-up that is an elaborate, moving float (like the Rose Bowl). Then, after doing the routine with all the moving parts, part of the troupe stays behind to pack up while the musicians and the float immediately start marching south down to Oregon, playing a medley of songs the whole time. If the routines are held to 5 minutes long and each group just starts marching, then the gap between the acts shouldn’t be much longer than that and the parade will be continuously moving… like a parade.

  12. Shipsbells August 15, 2014 at 8:45 pm #

    I lived on Broad Street at Morris for 11 yrs from 1991-2002. The parade started to go down hill during Mayor Rendell’s administration. Yes the parade lasted 11 hours back then, but I have pictures of hundreds of people on our block. If you cheered loud enough, the bands or brigade would stop and play. Then Rendell said “keep it moving.” No longer were the bands allowed to stop to perform along the route, except in designated areas. By the time we moved in 2002, there were hardly any people standing out on our block. We moved to Mc Kean street. I used to go out in front of St Agnes to watch. The street was full of families. It was a family event. Not full of drunks like it is up in center city. Then they stopped performing in front of St. Agnes. Down the street I trooped to the thick crowd of families all in front of Methodist Hospital. In 2013 I had to walk all the way south to Shunk Street and put up with a DJ playing annoying rap music between the string bands. In 2014, I didn’t even bother to go. I figured I’d see it better on TV. Between the city screwing around with the parade and the police overtime stuff and the lame ideas by the mummers organization , they have ruined our parade!

  13. Mike August 19, 2014 at 11:53 am #

    I’ve been going to the parade for 30+ years, just like most of the people in south philly. My grandfather marched, my father marched, my uncles & cousins marched, I even marched! I am definitely against this change that is being proposed. But if it is going to change, then at least start at Washington Ave and March to Oregon Ave! Also, I wish this parade would stop being rushed! Back in the day, the string bands would stop and perform for the people of Methodist Hospital, which now they just walk right by the hospital. This city needs to stop being so cheap and saying there is no money. What a crock. I remember standing on Broad and Wolf till 8pm watching the parade going on. It was an ALL DAY event. Yes, granted people of that generation moved away and South Philly has changed, BUT there are still THOUSANDS of people who love this parade and want to see it and be a part of it. If the city is looking to make money, hire some vendors on every other corner, beer vendors, food vendors, put up tents, etc. There are ways to make money, Just don’t take this historical 108 year old event out of the place where it all started!

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