Philadelphia officials say the outdoor portion of the Mummers Parade is being postponed to Jan. 2 due to forecast rain. The indoor portion of the performances, which take place in the Pennsylvania Convention Center, at 11:30 a.m. and 5 p.m., will go on as planned.
The Mummers did not march in 2021 after the city banned all large-scale events as part of its coronavirus mitigation efforts — there was a much smaller and widely criticized “protest parade” that year — so this year’s event was supposed to be their big comeback, much to the chagrin of some residents concerned about the latest surge in COVID-19 cases.
Jake Kudrick, the 15-year-old captain of the Duffy String Band, said the group was “obviously disappointed” with the postponement following a yearlong layoff and several days this week of final preparations. But he hoped that holding out for better weather would allow more spectators to come out.
“We’re still so excited to be back and performing for the people,” Kudrick said.
Mike Townsend, secretary of the Fancy Brigade Association, agreed that he was at first “a little bit disappointed” that the outdoor portion of the event was pushed back. But said: “If we have to wait one more day, so be it.” And he noted that the indoor show would still go on Saturday, and that the 12 clubs slated to perform were eager to return to the proverbial stage.
“It’s definitely going to be one of the better shows, with the two years we’ve had to wait,” Townsend said.
Health concerns due to COVID led the Vaudevillains, a brigade in the Comic Division, to make the tough decision to not take part in this year’s parade.
“We have decided to withdraw from the parade this year,” wrote the brigade’s three co-captains in an email to their members sent at 10:55 p.m. Thursday. “Any question of safety is too great a risk to take and we prioritize the brigade’s health and well being before the parade.”
The cancellation was a hard choice, said the leaders. “We’re pretty heart-broken about it,” said co-captain Melissa MacNair, in an interview Friday. “We’re definitely hoping we can come back full force next year.”
Despite the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19′s impact building for more than a month, the city planned to move forward with the parade as recently as Thursday until the rain forecast.
Early research outside the United States suggests vaccinated people who contract the omicron variant generally experience milder symptoms. But experts have said area hospitals will likely not feel the full impact of holiday gatherings until the middle of January, as hospitalizations often lag.
Philly’s neighbor New York City is hosting its Times Square New Year’s Eve ball drop. Event organizers there said they’ll be limiting crowds, requiring masks, and attendees will have to show proof of vaccination.
In contrast, Philadelphia was requiring masks along the parade route and at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Some individual clubs were recommending members get vaccinated, if they weren’t already, and get a negative coronavirus test before the performance.
Staff writer Chris Palmer contributed to this article.