The Mummers Parade – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

The Mummers Parade

The Mummers Parade to people in Philly, especially South Philly, is just a part of life. In fact, you don’t even assume that people don’t know what it is, and when you find out that they really have no clue if they aren’t from Philly, well you actually feel bad for them.

I grew up with the Mummers.

The year my mother was born, the parade was postponed a day because of the weather and she was born on January 2nd on the parade route, so my grandmother didn’t even have to miss the parade (isn’t my mom nice?). My little sister was born on January 1st (not on the parade route that year), but every year we would head to my grams and so would everyone else in the entire family. It was a pretty big party, and you would run down and watch the parade, come home to get some hot chocolate, get warm and head right back out. After all that, it was time to get out the cake and sing happy birthday to my mom and sis. Because all this happened on her birthday, my sister always thought the parade was for her. Humble little one.

If you are from South Philly then you always know someone in the parade, it’s just the way it is. So the parade, well, we always watched the parade in South Philly and basically there are people climbing on everything you can climb on. Everyone who has a house on Broad St is basically obliged to have a party so there are people hanging out of windows, people in every shop, in the hospital windows, literally everywhere. Even the funeral parlors!

There is food either for sale or for free everywhere, everyone dances along with the bands and just has a great time. Even the cops have a good time. People of all ages do the Mummers Strut, I think it’s something you just know how to do if you are from Philly because I’ve never been taught how to do it, I just do it and I can’t begin to teach someone. You kind of bend over, hold your arms in the air and sort of dance in a circle. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it?

After the parade, there is another parade – Two Street (2nd street but no one calls it that). This is where most of the clubs are located. Basically this parade is less parade and more party. The Mummers have finished the official parade and started some serious drinking and partying and the crowd, usually friends and family, join along. It’s a blast and everyone knows everyone else and everything is good.

I haven’t been to the parade since it’s been moved to Market St and I’d make a wager that most of South Philly hasn’t either. By moving it there it’s almost like they’ve taken the heart away from it. There are no houses to let people sit in the windows and none of the family-like feel.

But I don’t know for sure since I haven’t seen it. It’s definitely still worth a visit to see, but maybe if you feel up to it, go on and check out Two Street, I’m sure that really hasn’t changed at all.