The sturm und drang around the financing and care of the Mummers Parade is over, so it is time to just enjoy this century-old Philadelphia tradition and the events around it.

The big change in the parade itself is the promise that it will be quicker and snappier, with some adjustments in starting places and times, and routes.

"I'm glad we've finally got it together to go up the street," said Anthony Celenza, who will be the Ferko String Band captain for the first time after 35 years with the band, starting as a teenaged clarinet player from 11th and Ritner Streets. "No one does this for the money. We're crazy, but we love it."

The parade will begin with the Goodtimers, the first of three Comic clubs, stepping off at Broad and Washington Streets at 10 a.m. About a mile down the street, Golden Sunrise, the first of the Fancy clubs, will start at Broad Street and Snyder Avenue at 10:30 a.m. The 16 String Bands and then the 11 Fancy Brigades will start farther south near Broad Street and Oregon Avenue at 10:20 a.m.

Thus, the various divisions will mesh into one parade, with the Comics, Fancies and String Bands finishing just west of City Hall and the Fancy Brigades stopping at Washington Avenue, breaking down there to move to their final performances and judging at the Convention Center starting at 5 p.m.

The Mummers have promised a parade of 61/2 hours, which is about three hours shorter than last year. The city has designated five performance areas, besides the formal judging section one block west of City Hall near 15th and Market Streets. The performance areas are City Hall and at Shunk, Ritner, Washington, Pine and Sansom along the Broad Street route.

As a warm-up to the parade, there are events around the city to pre-Mummerize.

From Saturday through Wednesday, MummersFest will take over the Convention Center. The Fancy Brigades will be practicing their shows, and docents - in this case, all former Fancy Brigade captains - will be giving "backstage" tours of props and floats. They will also be teaching the Mummers strut to the uninitiated.

Another feature of MummersFest will be a 50th anniversary exhibition of New Year's costumes, the work of famed Mummers designer Bob Finnigan.

For the young Mummer-phile, the newly remodeled and relocated Please Touch Museum will be celebrating the "noon" year on Wednesday, with its Countdown to Noon, giving kids the chance to celebrate the new year a little earlier than their parents will. As part of the celebration - which will actually happen both at noon and again an hour later at 1 p.m. - there will be a learn-to-strut session so that the young revelers will be ready to strut in celebration as the clock strikes 12.

The Mummers Museum, too, will be open today, Saturday, Tuesday and Wednesday, with its regular costume and video exhibits. The museum will close early Wednesday - at noon - so all can be rested for the parade.

City and Mummers officials have agreed that if there is potentially inclement weather, they will either take a chance and start the parade on time, or delay it until Saturday, Jan. 3, with the same schedule. Unlike in other years, the start time will not be delayed just to get it in on New Year's Day. Officials will meet at 4 a.m. and announce through KYW-AM (1060) their decision based on weather. If Jan. 3 is inclement, the parade will move to Jan. 4. If all goes as planned, the string bands will start reaching City Hall about 1:45 p.m. and finish up by 4:30 p.m.

MummersFest and 2009 Parade

MummersFest is an interactive five-day festival held Saturday through Wednesday at the Convention Center.

Hours: 2-8 p.m. Saturday; noon-8 p.m. Sunday; 4-9 p.m. Monday; 4-8 p.m. Tuesday; and 2-6 p.m. Wednesday. Tickets: $3, available at the Convention Center, 12th and Arch Streets. Admission includes make-and-take crafts, a costume exhibit, rehearsals, and a 30-minute behind-the-scenes tour.

The Mummers Parade will step off at 10 a.m. Thursday, with the Comic division near Broad and Washington Streets, at 10:30 a.m. at Broad and Snyder for the Fancy division, and at 10:20 a.m. at Broad and Oregon for the String Bands and Fancy Brigades. Information: Philadelphia Department of Recreation 215-683-3691 or 683-3595.

SEPTA will be rerouting buses that intersect with the parade (Routes 2, 7, 17, 23, 27, 29, 31, 32, 33, 37, 38, 44, 48, 57, 64, 68, 79, 124/125, C and G). The SEPTA Customer Service line, 215-580-7800, will be on 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. during the parade.

Tickets are $15 for the grandstands at 15th and Market Streets and are available at the Independence Visitors Center, Sixth and Market Streets. Information: 215-965-7676. Tickets for the Fancy Brigades show at the Convention Center, 12th and Arch Streets, are $14-$19 and are available at www.ticketphiladelphia.org or by calling 215-893-1999.

The Mummers Museum, 1100 S. Second St., will be open from 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m today, Saturday and Tuesday, and from 9:30 a.m.-noon Wednesday. Admission is $3.50, $2.50 for those younger than 12, students and seniors. Information: 215-336-3050, www.mummersmuseum.com.

The Please Touch Museum, 4231 Avenue of the Republic, Fairmount Park, will be open 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Wednesday for the special Noon Year's celebration. Admission is $15. Information: 215-581-3181, www.pleasetouchmuseum.org

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