Traditional event stopped, but some celebrate anywayCity spokeswoman laments among some marchers lack of masks
For the Mummers tradition’s New Year celebration, scores of costumed performers took to the streets of their hometown of South Philadelphia, far from the regular parade route and despite the formal suspension of the annual event and the prohibition on large gatherings due to the coronavirus pandemic. Participants in colorful costumes, some with painted faces, paraded down Second Street in South Philadelphia on Friday, accompanied by trucks blaring string band or popular music. Philadelphia Mummers parade officials condemn acts of ‘hate and intolerance.’ Read more
Some were wearing masks, but many were not, and others marched along in sweatshirts labeled “South Philly Still Struts” In July, the mayor, Jim Kenney, declared that the city would not grant permits for scheduled outdoor activities for more than 50 people, effectively canceling the massive annual parade and other events as officials tried to control the spread of the virus.
“City spokeswoman Lauren Cox said Friday there were no major issues, but that pictures of several people without masks were “very alarming, considering the magnitude of this current outbreak of the pandemic.” “Anyone who was in or near large crowds today should be screened five to seven days after the activity, stay away from others for 10 days, and continue to watch for 14 days for symptoms,” she said. The Philadelphia Inquirer recorded that two previous attempts to cancel it – in 1919 because of World War I and in 1934 because of the Great Depression – had not gone well in the 119-year history of the parade.
The usual festival features string bands, comic brigades, extravagant floats and plenty of feathers and sequins, attended by thousands of spectators each year, but it has also attracted criticism for its long history of racist blackface shows and other insensitive or offensive conduct.
Kenney threatened to close it down after last year’s parade if organizers didn’t clean it up. While it was called a protest against Kenney’s decision by online supporters of the Friday celebration and signs were seen condemning the mayor, others said they were actually participating in a very local celebration. That was the view of 39-year-old JP Pasterino, who talked to relatives as demonstrators from many groups passed by on 2nd Street. “This is our neighborhood, this is a celebration, it’s more for us than for them, so we’re still going to show up, we’re going to distance ourselves as socially as we can and do what we do,” said Pasterino, who lives in New Jersey, but returns to celebrate with cousins in the area. He said, “It’s a family day, it’s not just a party,” We all came, we go to the homes of each other and we celebrate. After the Broad Street rally, Two Street, where many clubs are headquartered, will host a traditional welcoming party that will last late into the night. Kristen Boone, 36, said that was more the atmosphere of the event on Friday. “When it comes down Second Street, it’s more like a neighborhood thing,” said Boone, who sat on a stoop watching the march.
“She acknowledged that this year would not be a good idea for the traditional post-parade celebration of packing the street, but she was happy to see the local tradition continue. “It used to be door-to-door, so it’s so nice to see that,” she said. The Mummers Parade, thought to be the oldest folk festival in the nation, stems from a mix of immigrant traditions, some dating back to the 1640s, with the name “The Mummers Parade
The show travels to the Pennsylvania Convention Center for a show after the parade before Mummers and fans traditionally assemble I