As I predicted months ago, when the city decreed no Mummers Parade/New Year’s Parade on January 1, our fine feathered (and sequined) friends would not take this lying down.
The “management” of the parade — meaning the heads of the five divisions — have capitulated, for reasons I will explain. They issued documents of unconditional surrender, along the lines of those signed by the Axis powers at the end of World War II.
Such as this from the all-important String Band Division, joined in by the Comics and Fancies.
Calls to the Fancy Brigades and the Wenches Divisions were not returned. It is highly doubtful the Brigades, which have performed in the Pennsylvania Convention Center since 1998, would venture out on the street.
The Wenches are the least disciplined division and there was no doubt in my mind they would march. Looking at you, Froggy Carr, which marched up Broad Street the first year the parade was ordered to march down Broad Street. Last year a couple of their marchers reportedly used banned blackface, bringing disgrace to the club. When you have 800 marchers, it’s hard to police them all. The a**holes who did that no more represent all Mummers than the jailed Seth Williams represents all D.A.s.
But the Froggy Carr clubhouse will be closed Friday, but elements of the membership will be on the street, without question.
When the city moved to ban the parade, it was answered on Facebook by the Mummers/New Year’s Day Peaceful Protest Against Mayor Kenney. In announcing the
parade protest, organizers cited the First Amendment, and the right of the people to peaceably assemble. (Go, Colonials!) Despite the COVID-19 danger.
“Mayor Jim Kenney has tried for years (like every Philly mayor in the past) to cancel the Philadelphia Mummers Parade, a tradition preceding the birth of our nation,” said a statement on the page.
I disagree that every past mayor tried to kill the parade, but Kenney — a former member of the Jokers Fancy Brigade — would kill it if he could. He quit the Club where he spent some two decades and I believe he would erase his past affiliation if he could. That’s because he was sent to progressive reeducation camp and he has come to believe that America’s oldest and largest folk celebration is nothing more than a hate-filled expression of racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia, and patriarchal whiteness.
And that is why the leadership of the Mummers assumed the position, if you get my drift. They cower under what they fear would be the unbridled fury of a vengeful mayor with an explosive temper if they did not lay down their plumes, banjos and saxophones.
January 1, 2021, will not be the first New Year’s the Mummers did not march. In some years, weather delayed the parade, but in its 120-year history, it was cancelled only twice — in 1919, in the aftermath of World War I, and in 1934 when the Great Depression devastated the economy. Each time, freelancers put on makeup and costumes and frolicked in the streets.
Friday, there will be no “official,” city-sanctioned Mummers Parade, but there will be a “protest” parade, so maybe it will go into the records books with an asterisk, like Roger Maris’ breaking of Babe Ruth’s 60-home run total for one season (Ruth’s season had fewer games).
Since it is “unofficial,” there is no way of insuring that any of the participants are actually members of Mummers Clubs. Some will be, for sure, but many will not be. It will be a free-for-all.
The Facebook page I mentioned does not say what time the
parade protest might start, nor where, other than Two Street. Those details might be posted at the last minute.
As of Monday, 2,700 people said they would attend — as participants or spectators — with another 8,300 saying they were interested.
Because of all the clubs located on it, Two Street is home turf of the Mummers, and an unorganized traipse down the street actually will be a return to the ancient roots of the parade, before prize money and elaborate costumes turned it into a production.
It will be different, that’s for sure. The Philadelphia Police Department tells me it stands ready to provide protection, but won’t share tactical details.
Happy New Year!