A New Year & Mummers:
In Philly The Two Go Hand-in-Hand
|This statue is outside a renovated firehouse in the Queen’s Village section of Center City.|
Well, it’s now December, which means 2001 is sneaking up on us. (We’ll finally see the true start of a new millennium!) Around Philly, that means it’s almost time for the annual Mummer’s Parade, a New Year’s Day tradition in Philadelphia since 1901. To be appreciated, this parade must be seen firsthand. It’s hard to put the whole parade experience into words, but here’s my best shot.
Basically, over 25,000 "Mummers" from different neighborhood clubs spend the better part of a year preparing elaborate routines and ornate costumes for the parade. On New Year’s Day they don their costumes (think Mardi Gras) and strut along the designated parade route (which I’ll return to in a moment), with the accompaniment of bands that consist of – and are limited to – accordions, saxes, drums, violins, banjos, bass fiddles, glockenspiels, and clarinets. Sound confusing? Well, there’s actually a lot more involved in this event – but I’ll spare you the details. The important thing is, the parade is quite a spectacle to watch, and highly entertaining.
I experienced my first Mummer’s parade last year, and have decided to stay in town again this year for the chance to see it again. Plus, why deal with the crowds and high cost of New York City, when all these festivities are available in Philly for a fraction of the cost?
|A typical rowhouse in Society Hill|
This year the parade will be held on Market Street. The parade route has been the subject of hot debate in Philly for the past few years.
Traditionally, the route followed Broad Street, from South Philadelphia to City Hall. However, it was changed to Center City’s Market Street a few years ago, angering traditionalists and most residents of South Philly. This year the Mummers voted on the location, and Market Street won by a slim margin. (No word as to whether the ballot was confusing.) Therefore, be
aware there might be some grumbling in the crowds.
The parade starts New Year’s Day at 8:45 a.m., at the intersection of 5th and Market, and will proceed west towards City Hall. Get there early to grab a good spot, as the crowds can get pretty thick. Don’t be surprised if you see people perched atop bus shelters and ladders; it’s common. The parade itself is free; however, if you are not a cold-weather person, there will also be two indoor shows at the convention center, at 12 and 6 p.m. Admission for those shows is $12.
So, are you ready to see a Mummer up close? Then bundle up and spend the last weekend of the old millennium in historical Philadelphia – our cheesesteaks will keep you warm!
Want more information? Check out the links below:
The home of all things "Mummer."
Make a stop at the official museum before you see the parade, to learn the history of this event and view past costumes.
Take a peek at photographs from last year’s parade.
Still have questions? Check out these FAQ.
This website reveals the roots of this annual event.
Go here to explore the websites of different clubs.
Peddler’s Village Holiday Season, Nov. 16-Jan. 6
Travel just outside of Philadelphia to Peddler’s Village, a quaint shopping experience that will be filled with the magic of the holiday season. Over the holidays the village sparkles with more than 400,000 lights. Ohhhh, ahhhhh! Enjoy an incredible, edible gingerbread display from Nov. 17 through Jan. 6, as well as a Holiday Festival on Dec. 2 & 3. For more information call (215) 794-4000.
Longwood Gardens Christmas, Nov. 23-Jan. 7
Visit the Winter Wonderland at lovely Longwood Gardens, located about 45 minutes outside of Philly. Some highlights include towering Christmas trees, thousands of brilliant plants, fragrant white narcissi, over 400,000 decorative lights, and colorful fountains that are set to music. For more information call (610) 388-1000.
Blue Cross River Rink, Nov. 24-Feb. 28
Strap on your ice skates and start packing the seat of your pants with T.P.; it is that time of year again, and the skating rink is open! You can find it on Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing (at the intersection of Columbus Boulevard, at Spring Garden).
The Franklin Institute Holiday Celebration of Lights, Nov. 24-Dec. 31
Check out all the pretty colors! The Franklin Institute is presenting their annual light show at the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial. These shows feature a fantastic display that combines festive lights and sounds. Catch one of the daily shows at 12:05, 1:05, 2:05, or 3:05 p.m.
The Holiday Trees at City Hall, Nov. 29-Dec. 31
City Hall’s impressive architecture is complimented by Philadelphia’s official tree: a three-story evergreen covered with over 1,000 shimmering lights and decorations. It will be officially lighted this year by Mayor Street, on Nov. 29 at 5 p.m. Feeling ambitious? Climb to the top of the City Hall tower. Once up there, look to the east, where 140 smaller holiday trees line Market Street. Self-guided tours of the tower are given every 15 minutes, Mon.-Fri., 9:30 a.m.-4:15 p.m. For more information call (215) 686-2840.
The Nutcracker, Dec. 15-31
Experience this holiday classic, and delight in the dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy! Presented by the Pennsylvania Ballet at the Academy of Music. For information and tickets call (215) 893-1999.
Millennium Philadelphia Countdown to 2001! Dec. 31, 2000-Jan. 1, 2001
Philadelphia’s City Hall will be celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2001. Join this year’s celebration and enjoy a free concert, a laser-light show on the Avenue of the Arts (a.k.a. Broad Street), and numerous cultural festivities at the City Hall Gala.
100th Annual Mummers Parade, Jan. 1, 2001
This is one of Philadelphia’s best – don’t miss it!
The world-famous Mummer’s Parade is a day-long event that is held every New Year’s Day, and is responsible for getting the city out of its post-New Year’s hangover and into feathers and finery. This unique Philadelphia tradition consists of more than 30,000 costumed entertainers strutting and performing on the streets of Center City. For more information call (215) 636-1666.