If you’re going to the Mummers Parade this year, you’ll want to keep an eye out for a walking version of Philly’s most colorful landmark — the Magic Gardens.
Golden Sunrise, the last remaining club in the Fancy Division, teamed up with Isaiah Zagar, the artist behind the Magic Gardens, to create the suit.
If you want to see it, go early. The club starts the parade at 9 a.m. at City Hall.
Michael Carwile, a Golden Sunrise member who serves on the club’s board of directors, will wear the Magic Gardens suit. He met Zagar at one of the artist’s workshops last year and learned some of his mosaic techniques.
“After the workshop ended, I asked him — since he has all these colorful tiles and stuff — if he’s ever thought about doing a collaboration with a Mummers club,” Carwile said. “He said he had never thought about it but that I should go by his studio later.”
Carwile took a couple other Golden Sunrise members to Zagar’s studio this spring, and the artist began working through sketches with them. By July, the group had started building the costume, which weighs roughly 75 pounds.
“We’re hoping that this is the beginning of a bigger collaboration between Golden Sunrise and the Magic Gardens,” Carwile said. “Since we’re transitioning away from being a competitive club into more of a community arts organization, we’re hoping to learn from them.”
To help frame the suit, Zagar decided to use bicycle wheels that Carwile got from the Bicycle Club of Philadelphia. Zagar’s team constructed the frame, and Carwile built the rest of the suit with back-splash tiles to capture the mosaic effect. He used foam between the tiles instead of grout to cut down on the its weight.
“We also used swatches of fabric that we’re more familiar with at the Mummers club,” Carwile said. “And of course, feathers, because it wouldn’t be a Mummer suit without feathers.”