November 13, 2015 |
Move over, wenches, and make room for Mexican dancers and kung fu fighters. The 2016 Mummers Parade is getting more diverse. A new division - the Philadelphia Division - is being added to the 115-year-old parade next year after ongoing complaints about racial insensitivity and xenophobia. The expansion also reflects a desire to sustain the parade, a longtime draw to the city on New Year's Day, for decades to come, said Leo Dignam, the city's deputy commissioner for parks and recreation.
November 11, 2015 |
SERVING UP BANANAS laced with marijuana to rhesus monkeys on an island in the Caribbean - all in a day's work for Jon Greene. Well, not exactly, but Jon was the cameraman recording the effect of this unusual repast on the unsuspecting primates as part of a study. Jon, who spent most of his life behind a camera, mostly with Philadelphia's Channel 10, had been hired for this project by a researcher from the Dorothea Dix psychiatric hospital in Raleigh, N.C. It involved lugging heavy cameras onto the island off Puerto Rico, tramping through the jungle, dodging an irate ape that threatened to attack, and setting up the cameras to record the pot-eating monkeys' reactions compared with a control group that got a regular monkey diet.
October 26, 2015 |
After decades of parades for all reasons, Philadelphia will hold its first citywide veterans parade on Nov. 8. "In some ways, it's strange that Philly didn't have one, but now we do," said Scott Brown, director of the city's Veterans Advisory Commission. With the backing of U.S. Rep. Robert Brady (D., Pa.) and City Council President Darrell L. Clarke, Brown and a committee of about 50 organizations planned the inaugural parade. It will be held Nov. 8, in advance of Veterans Day on Nov. 11. "We didn't want to interfere with Veterans Day celebrations either," Brown said.
October 23, 2015
SHORTLY AFTER his appointment last year as director of the Veterans Advisory Commission, Scott C. Brown noticed something that was missing. Philadelphia had no veterans parade. As a Navy veteran, Brown found that puzzling - and disheartening. He did some research and found that despite the lip service we always pay vets, "there never was an official veterans parade in Philadelphia" - ever. In his bones and in his job, Brown knew that was just wrong and nominated himself to raise the flag.
July 22, 2015 |
Go in peace. Organizers are assuring the hundreds of thousands, even millions, of people who will throng Philadelphia for Pope Francis' visit in September that they need not worry about bathroom access. Porta-potties will abound, about one for every 250 people. And they'll be cleaned three times a day. More than 3,000 porta-potties and about 350 urinal stalls will be set up for the papal crowds. Organizers say the fleet, plus area restaurant and public restrooms, will provide for the 1.5 million people expected.
May 22, 2015 |
AT JOSEPH BLASS' funeral, the family got into a discussion about the ranking of his passions. All agreed that family came first. But after that? There was some disagreement about what was second. The Ferko String Band, of which he was past captain, had to be up there. But what about his country? Joe was devoted to the country he had served in fire and death on a bombed ship in the South Pacific in World War II. OK. A compromise was reached. After family, second place in Joe's hierarchy would be divided equally between Ferko and his country, Joseph H. Blass Jr., award-winning captain of the Ferko String Band, whose idea of a great time was to march with the band on Broad Street in the Mummers Parade, blasting away on his saxophone, General Electric toolmaker for 42 years, Navy veteran of World War II, and devoted family man, died May 13. He was 94 and was living in Havertown, but had lived most of his life in South Philadelphia.
March 11, 2015 |
THE MUMMERS Parade broke with tradition and marched the "wrong way" on Broad Street on New Year's Day. The (remaining) fans seemed to like it. The crowds were somewhat larger in Center City (which is what happens when you contract the parade route). As a veteran parade watcher and reviewer, I liked it, even knowing the reversal of direction was born out of necessity. Doing everything the "old" way was turning into a funeral procession for this Philadelphia tradition, one that should be embraced.
March 2, 2015 |
Cars still were barred from Main Street an hour after the first-ever Mummers Parade in Manayunk concluded. The crowd inside Pitcher's Pub swelled at noon Saturday, and the Pennsport String Band had an idea to engage the revelers. One strut. Outside. Three contestants. Winner collects $100. "Everyone points at me," said Kate O'Reilly, a Mummer's daughter and Manayunk resident. "I say: 'Done. It's in the bag. I dare you.' The rest is history. " There was something different about this intimate Mummers gathering.
February 26, 2015 |
MANAYUNK will be mobbed by Mummers on Saturday when all 17 string bands march down Main Street in the first Philadelphia Mummers Mardi Gras Parade. Postponed last weekend by wintry weather, the free, family-friendly, two-hour parade from Shurs to Green lanes is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. under forecasted cold, sunny skies. The string bands will then serenade and schmooze with fans from noon to 4 p.m. in Manayunk restaurants. A $10 contribution to the cash-strapped Mummers buys a bracelet to all after-parties plus food and drink discounts.
February 25, 2015 |
IT BROKE Joe Bryson's heart when he couldn't participate in the last New Year's Mummers Parade. As a former captain of the Bryson New Year's Brigade, Joe lived and breathed the exotic culture of Philadelphia Mummery. "New Year's Day was his favorite day," said his daughter, Colleen Judge. "But he was just out of the hospital and the weather was bad. His doctors said he couldn't go. " But Mummers culture is in Bryson blood, and his fellow paraders knew it. So, on the morning of the parade, they gathered outside Joe's house and serenaded him with some favorite Mummer airs.