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.
January 2, 2015
The 115th edition of the "official," city-overseen Mummers Parade (it had been spontaneous and disorganized before that) yesterday returned to its disorganized roots, which left a lot of people - Mummers, fans and city officials alike - wondering, "How did that happen?" For the first time in 115 years the Mummers broke with tradition and marched south on Broad, starting with judging at City Hall, and ending with a performance at Carpenter, which turned out to be the best place to see the parade.
December 31, 2014 |
SINCE THE Vietnam War era, the Woodland String Band has honored members who are away on military duty by reserving a Mummers suit and a place in the New Year's Day parade for them. So, when Ed Farrell III returned in July from his third tour of duty in the Middle East, he was a little rusty on his saxophone but he knew that his Mummers suit would be waiting. Between his duties as a 15-year veteran of the Cheltenham Township Police Department and his deployment in the Air National Guard, Farrell didn't attend enough of the 88 Woodland String Band rehearsals and 41 performances this year to accumulate enough points for the suit.
December 31, 2014 |
CONSIDERING the supersonic pace of change in today's world, it's comforting that some local traditions endure, especially those indigenous to this time of year. The holiday light show at Macy's in Center City. The Penn's Landing fireworks at 6 p.m. and midnight on New Year's Eve. And, of course, the Mummers march up Broad Street. Well, at least we still have Macy's and the fireworks. But for 2015, our signature New Year's Day extravaganza is moving in a new direction. After more than a century heading north on Broad Street - with but five years of exceptions - the annual cakewalk has changed course.
December 12, 2014
THEY FLOATED in like driftwood, coming to shore in the subterranean hall of the Mummers Museum, the art deco depository of Mummers lore, law and love. Many wore colorful windbreakers adorned with the names of their storied clubs - Quaker City, Duffy, Woodland, Murray. Wednesday was the night of the annual Roundup, where Mummers get "The Word" from "The City" about plans for "The Parade. " It began with handshakes and half hugs as the families came together for a sit-down - the four divisions, the 29 clubs, the thousands they represent.
August 11, 2014 |
Take the Mummers Parade out of South Philadelphia? Albert Lancellotti is having none of it. "You don't know what it is like to be a full-blooded South Philly Italian with this in your blood," said the 55-year-old lifelong neighborhood resident and president of the Jesters New Year's Brigade. "For them to move the parade is no big deal, because their families ain't from here. To us, it is all about our family. " Brigade member Matt Ciotto, 31, concurred: "Leaving out the neighborhood where it started from?
August 7, 2014 |
The city is considering a radical change in the route of the Mummers Parade that would take it south from City Hall to Washington Avenue, skipping the event's spiritual heart - South Philadelphia. The new route would reverse the parade's direction. The change was proposed by the Mummers themselves, and is intended to infuse more spontaneity and flow into the parade, which all too often has become a daylong queue of string bands, comics, and elaborate floats moving fitfully up South Broad Street from Oregon Avenue.
April 5, 2014 |
Russell J. Geiser never played an instrument, certainly not one with a Mummers string band. But at one time or another, each of his five children marched up Broad Street playing in a string band to celebrate New Year's Day. And at one time or another, his daughter Mary Raschilla said, Mr. Geiser was president of the Palmyra String Band, then of the Palmyra South Jersey String Band, and founder and president of the South Jersey String Band of...
January 3, 2014
OMG! THEY didn't ! In yesterday's 114th edition of the New Year's/Mummers Parade, Uptown String Band used the theme "The Pillage People," which showed ferocious Vikings in horned helmets, swords and shields. The message was unmistakable: Norsemen were, basically, war criminals. What a despicable insult to Nordic peoples. What a crushing blow to their ethnic pride. Just poking a little fun at those who scour the parade for any unintended or (more likely) imagined insult.
December 27, 2013 |
IF HE were still alive, it's doubtful legendary football coach Vince Lombardi would be a fan of the Pennsport String Band. After all, it was he who was famously credited with saying, "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing. " But for those who will be cakewalking up Broad Street Wednesday morning under the Pennsport banner, winning the annual string-band competition, while certainly an aspiration, is far from the unit's mission. Instead, the 7-year-old troupe has other, more important goals, foremost among them offering people the opportunity to be a part of the Mummers Parade without having to devote a huge portion of their lives (and bankrolls)