…And a Quirky New Year to You!!!

After four days of being immersed in Kingdom  thoughts and teachings through the webstreaming of the mind-blowing event that is “onething 08” (from IHOP-KC), yesterday was a bit of a whiplash experience. We had to run a couple errands early in the day, but then retreated home, to become immersed in a mind-blowing experience of a different type: the Mummers Parade.

After watching the final half of the parade on TV, it became clear why this annual Philly event takes place on New Year’s Day. I think it takes a night of being up way too late and drinking way too much for this event to make any sort of sense at all. I mean, under what other circumstances would thousands of people brave sub-freezing temperatures and huge crowds to watch befeathered, sequin bedazzled men from space rocking out to a medly of space tunes, including everything from “2001 Space Oddessy”, “Star Trek” and “Close Encounters” to “Star Wars”. Or what about my personal favorite? Several dozen men dressed as ancient Egyptians, both living and mummified, covered in glittery garb and sporting enough feathers to make a Vegas showgirl jealous, playing banjos and saxophones, dancing to “Mr. Sandman”, right there in front of City Hall.

Think I’m kidding? Take a look at this:

Then there’s this guy:

And these guys:

You also have to take into account the length of this extravaganza. When I said we saw the last half of the parade, I meant was we saw THREE HOURS of the parade! The TV announcers we watched said this was the shortest parade ever.  Last year the parade started around 10 AM and ended just in time for the “Fancy Brigade” show at the Pennsylvania Convention Center at 8 PM!

Don’t get me wrong; I am in no way criticizing this exhibition. It is a tradition that goes way back in Philadelphia history, and from the interviews we’ve seen, it seems like some terribly fun-loving guys using their time and resources to enjoy their hobby of choice. I’m just saying that I think being sleep deprived and hung over may help it all make sense..

As Adam is fond of saying: “I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin’…” Happy New Year!

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6 Comments

Filed under Just for Fun, local color, Philadelphia, Quirky Things..., Random Ramblings, Weird Stuff I Know

6 responses to “…And a Quirky New Year to You!!!

  1. Mrs. I.

    We personally enjoyed the “Pirates of the Caribbean” brigade!!! We did not have the stamina to watch the entire parade even being indoors and warm! It is sort of an alternate universe kind of thing…..or one of those things you look at, look away, look at…………..!

    New Year’s Blessings to the Beattie clan!!

  2. Wow… that is just… wow……

    I don’t know where the Mummers tradition comes from, but I can guarantee that alchohol was involved somewhere in the process. My personal opinion, there aren’t enough mind altering drugs on this planet to make that seem smart. But in the words of Tevye, “TRAAADITION!!!”

  3. John Barker

    Just happened by, clicked over from Amanda’s blog….. and I have to say, I am never bored by stopping by here. It’s only on your blogs I can expect the unexpected and truly zany. You have to give it to those guys in the first pic, they did a smashing job on their costumes.

    I have one question though, how do you guys find these things? I never even knew that whole cities would give themselves to this kind of weirdness. Like that town that did the blob deal- I mean, wow.

  4. Mrs. I: The Pirates were awesome! I wanted to post a picture of them, because the costumes were wo amazing, but couldn’t find one. 😦

    Adam: You’re right. The tradition in Philadelphia is traced back a few hundred years when groups of party-ers would go put on disguises and go door to door begging for “refreshments”. (Although they gleefully trace the idea all the way back to 400 BC to the Roman Festival of the Saturnalias.) In Newfoundland it was a Christmas thing instead of New Years. You can check out this video on YouTube with a song about the tradition. As you’ll see the costumes are more, um, simple? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D8OPy7De3bk

    John: Some of it, like the Blob Fest, is just a matter of being in the right place at the right time. I learned of that one one day when I drove through the town on my way to somewhere else, and saw a giant banner strung above the road advertising it. The Mummers? Well, you just can’t get away from them around here. It’s the biggest thing around for New Year’s Day. I’d love to see them in person sometime, but I don’t think I want it badly enough to spend an entire, frozen day standing around on city sidewalks to see them!

  5. I was down there with my fiancee. We almost got incinerated when a drunk guy hugged us and knocked us into one of those heat lamps they have on restaurant patios.

    Next time you’re in center city, let us know! Glad you thought this stuff was “cultural”, seeing it up front & in person I would think other forces were at work, especially with the more gothic turn of many of the costumes, and the overall idea of blue collar men in makeup & fruity outfits. 🙂 24 Philly

  6. Retroman: Yeah, I was on YouTube and came across some video of the “after-party” down on 2nd street after the whole deal, and it didn’t look so family-friendly, even though there were families there. And that Froggy Car bunch? Oi, vey!

    I got a call from an Oklahoma friend yesterday and she had read this post. Her question was, “Are you sure they aren’t just transvestites?” I had to tell her that I don’t know for sure, but in the interviews we saw with some of the guys they seemed surprisingly normal.

    Perhaps it really does take all kinds…

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