Colorfully decorated performers are just about ready to strut their stuff for Philadelphia’s annual New Year’s Day tradition.
It’s that time now. The chill is in the air and there is a change in Mummer practices — at least for those who require them.
For the original Mummers, the Wench Brigade and Comic Division, it’s picking up the costumes and seeing if the color combination turned out as expected. Making sure the suit can accommodate the required fluids to march on Broad Street followed by Second Street. The Comic Division is making sure they can compete in as many categories as possible.
The fancy clubs are again shooting to make eyes open wide with brilliant displays of handsome costumes and elaborate floats. The string bands are perfecting their uniquely spectacular sound, as well as the newly added dance steps to make it just a little bit more complicated. The Fancy Brigades are getting ready to move into the Pennsylvania Convention Center for their 16th MummersFest and Fancy Brigade Finale (see schedule below).
As a past captain of the Downtowners Brigade, 148-50 Snyder Ave., this is the time of year when you start to wonder if you did enough. Do we have enough floats to compete? Do we have too many and will the floor will seem cluttered? Do the costume colors go together?
The choreographed moves that looked great in October now seem old. You say something to the choreographer about a move you bragged about when it was first taught and the choreographer turns into your therapist. He or she assures the captain the move is fine and to stop worrying. The choreographer/therapist usually walks away and rolls his or her eyes!
It is the result of what happens when you have been in the planning stages of a theme for almost a year. It starts with an idea (could be from a member) followed by a sketch (the designer), some music (music director) and moves (choreographer). Then a theme is born. The captain is the orchestra leader making sure it all comes together in a harmonious serenade.
Since yesterday, the brigades have begun working to make the idea turn 3-D. Even after 16 years, it is fascinating to watch. Those who stop by the Pennsylvania Convention Center after today’s second move-in day and come New Year’s Day to see the show, can see the amazing transformation.
The floats have become Disney-like in their design and capability. This week has become a major part of the brigade Mummer experience. What is truly unique is that while a brigade is building their floats, they also may be helping out a fellow group that they will compete against in just a few days. It’s truly amazing to watch.
As the president of the Mummers Brigade Association, I may be biased, but I believe the brigades get more creative and competitive each year. I can’t wait to see what the 10 Fancy Brigades have in store on New Year’s Day.
We hope to see you at the Pennsylvania Convention Center to take part in MummerFest (dress like a Mummer, face painting and more), or watch as the brigades practice their routines — except this time it’s with the complication of doing it with floats. Don’t forget the Fancy Brigade Finale on New Year’s Day.
James J. Julia is the president of the Philadelphia Mummers Brigade Association.
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The annual MummerFest is taking place Dec. 28 through Jan. 1 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, 1101 Arch St. Tickets can be purchased at the door. Dec. 28 : 5 to 9 p.m.
Dec. 29: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Dec. 30: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Dec. 30: Brigade Sneak Peek 6 to 9 p.m.
Dec. 31 and Jan 1: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.