Crowds were light due to the parade falling midweek and with weather forecasters predicting a high of 32, which is freezing. That's enough to shiver the timbers of all but the most loyal Mummers mavens. But the temperature cooperated, hitting 41 at 3 p.m., according to my iPhone.
By the time the string bands - the heart of the parade - strutted up Broad, the steps of the Academy of Music and the steps of the University of the Arts were filled, with fans crowded around the performance points, but really thin in between.
The biggest crowd was at Sansom Street, a performance point where the Union League set up its own bleachers. Who would have thought the largely blue-collar Mummers would find fans among the blue bloods?
The most ardent fans are the ones who have been fans a long time, but not always.
A parade first-timer, Jan Perilli drove down from Summit Hill - "there was no traffic" - in the Poconos with her daughter, Mia, 8, and her friend Zander Bauer, 9, who was fast asleep in a beach-type chair.
"Oh, my God, it's a blast," she said. "It's a big party. I can't wait to see the string bands."
Perilli had seen the parade on TV and decided it was time to savor it in person. She pretty much expressed the emotions of most paradegoers, who were happy and upbeat. On New Year's, Negadelphia takes a day off.
This was her first parade, but it was Joe Trinicria's 53rd - and he was unable to walk.
A glockenspiel player for Greater Kensington (his fifth group), Trinicria, 81, was seated on a tiny float when the band played (and moved between performance points in a limo).
A member of the String Band Hall of Fame, Trinicria has been battling cancer for seven years and the chemotherapy numbs his legs, making it impossible for him to walk. He shows up anyway.
Why? "I love it," he says simply. "I have a love for it."
Love. Dr. Dave DePutron, 68, a 54-year veteran of the Woodland String Band, left South Philly in 1971 but comes back from Vero Beach, Fla., every year for the parade. It's 80 in Vero Beach but he feels warmth here. "I see all my friends. We grew up together" and became Mummers. "The passion and the love is immeasurable," he said.
He's now a String Band Association official, tasked with making sure the rules are followed.
One of his friends is U.S. District Judge Jake Hart, who handles string-band color for PHL17's parade broadcast and was taking notes to use during the broadcast. He's another longtime veteran of the street.
Mummery is not all cops and stevedores and pipe fitters and mechanics - or men.
I notice so many women in the parade, now a group without them seems odd. It seems there were more kids in the parade, too.
Kids think they're just having fun. They don't realize their Mummery bonds will provide a lifetime of friendship and passion in this unique, peerless Philadelphia institution.
On Twitter: @StuBykofsky