Mummers, minus the spice

The 2022 Mummers Parade probably had the lowest turnout and offered the least controversy in recent memory. 

Past controversy was sparked by actual wrongdoing — such as 1 out of 10,000 Mummers smearing blackface (banned for more than 50 years) on their faces — or imagined wrongdoing, such as the “cultural appropriation” of depicting Native Americans in the buckskin of the Great Plains or the “issue” of having a Black Mummer portray another Black man, the rich and famous Jay Z. If you are determined to be offended, manufacturing “evidence” is not hard.

The Two Street Stompers saluted health care workers. (Photo: Inquirer)

This year’s performance had a lot of sugar — such as salutes to health care workers — but very little spice.

As to blackface, it was banned in 1964, and club and parade officials are deputized to pull anyone wearing it out of the ranks. But it is impossible to check 10,000 marchers. Those who do it are censured by most Mummers and all their leadership.

A quick search this year found the usual Mummers haters — no one says you have to like — complaining the parade was bad, but with no specifics.

“Hot take”? This whiner calls herself a princess, so I don’t have to.

She found some agreement, but also lots of pushback.

In its coverage, the Inquirer found a few notes to critically highlight, mixing in using Egyptian hand movements with waving pro-police flags, as if that were a misdemeanor. As to the cited hand gestures, the Inquirer reported, “another [club] performed heiroglyphic-influenced hand movements to the song ‘Walk Like an Egyptian.’” OMG!

Anyone remember Steve Martin — that hater! — having a whole routine built around that?

The newspaper reported that D.A. Larry Krasner and Mayor Jim Kenney came in for their share of ridicule, but — thank God — such expression is permitted by the various snoops commissions who scour the parade looking for offense and preview the sketches.

For the first time since time began, I was not on Broad Street. I’ve been on a cane for five years with a busted quadriceps, but this year an aching hip sidelined me, so I had to rely on WPHL-17’s coverage, and what I could see from my condo overlooking Broad Street.

Why was the attendance so bad on an afternoon that hit 60?

Obviously, COVID-19 kept many people away. The city recommended being masked up even if you were on the street. You would not have known it in advance, but there were no crowds.

Marching on Jan. 2 rather than New Years is not part of the tradition. And the Eagles were playing in the afternoon. 

In addition to fans — those who did attend were loud in their enjoyment — the parade also lacked the bullshit recently-added “International” brigade made up of “outsiders” — from cross-dressers to Hispanic folkloric musicians — who actually were always welcome to attach to a Comic club. The “International” unit was devised to enhance “diversity.”

Some complain the parade is not “diverse” enough — something I never hear directed at the St. Patrick’s parade or the Puerto Rican parade. The simple fact is this: anyone can get in with the Comics or the Wenches, many of which require nothing more than a membership fee.

As for the String Bands and Fancy Brigades, applicants must have two things — talent, and a willingness to spend endless hours of rehearsals and drill time for nothing more the the appreciation of a grateful city, minus the grumps, hysterics, and haters whose ignorance of America’s largest folk festival is matched only by their presence on Twitter.

To them, I say, I don’t particularly like hip-hop, so I ignore it.

Please do the same for the Mummers.

7 thoughts on “Mummers, minus the spice”

  1. Your final two sentences pretty much sum it up. After watching for years I now have an ambivalent attitude about the Mummers. I could take it or leave it, but as you allude to, if you don’t like it, just ignore it.

    Did you ever notice that the Mummers Parade, just as Volunteer Firefighting and other Volunteer Civic Organizations
    are usually a family affair. Sure, some of us are drawn in and even hang around for awhile. Me, I played for Harrowgate then Duffy then Uncle Sam asked for a personal appearance.
    Apparently Vince is an unbeliever. After moving out of the city – no allegiance to the mummers. Shame. He could have marched with you up ‘2’ street !

  3. There are some things in life that are simply acquired tastes; ouzo, Wagner, and for anyone
    born outside of the Philadelphia area, the Mummers.
    I was born here. My parents came from the coal-country regions of central Pennsylvania.
    My dad “got” the mummers. My mother hated them—but her idea of a good time was a barn dance.
    My father and I would watch the parade on television while my mom would make snarky comments from the kitchen.
    When my childhood neighborhood (very) briefly had a string band, my mom would do everything
    to keep the “noise” out when it would parade down the street for donations.
    My parents are gone now, but I still cheer for the sheer audacity, the longevity, of the Mummers.
    May they go on forever.
    And in some afterlife, Mom, please “get” them!

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