After nearly 30 years in the booth for PHL17 on New Year’s Day, Mummers broadcast host Steve Highsmith has called his last parade.

As has Jake Hart, a former Avalon String Band saxophonist and current U.S. District Court judge, who spent nearly 20 years as a string band color commentator for the station. Hart will also retire from the bench later this year.

The pair announced their retirement from PHL17’s annual Mummers parade broadcast on the air on New Year’s Day earlier this week, telling viewers “thanks for the mummeries.” Highsmith has been hosting Mummers coverage since 1992, while Hart joined the network’s annual parade broadcast a decade later.

Steve Highsmith
Steve Highsmith

“I made the decision that it was time,” Hart said toward the end of Wednesday’s broadcast. “It fit with my going off the bench. You get to a certain and age and you want some time to just relax.”

“I am retiring from this broadcast position, and I appreciate your indulgence with that, and the support you’ve given,” Highsmith later added. “Take time, if you will, to strut just a little bit every day. I know you’ll feel better — I do when I do.”

2020 Philadelphia Mummers Parade String Bands

2020 Philadelphia Mummers Parade String Bands

Posted by PHL17 on Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Highsmith and Hart’s departure from the annual New Year’s Day broadcast is something of the end of an era for PHL17, though network general manager Vince Giannini said that the station would “continue to put out an excellent broadcast that the community can be proud of.”

“I’m going to miss them both," he said. "Steve has been a pillar of consistency for us, and Jake has been great doing color commentary during the string bands for a number of years. I wish him and Steve nothing but the best.”

As far as who will take over for Highsmith and Hart in 2021, PHL17 will “continue to look at our own resources,” Giannini said.

Following Highsmith and Hart’s retirement announcement, fans and co-workers reached out with well-wishes via social media:

As with most years, the 2020 Mummers Parade was not without controversy: Two members of the Froggy Carr wench brigade were banned after appearing in blackface, a practice that has not been allowed at the parade since 1964.