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Lucky draw puts him street-side

For more than 40 years, Pete Ciarrocchi has also been a dedicated Mummer.

 EDITOR'S NOTE: Most Philadelphians know Pete Ciarrocchi as the guy who gave the world Crab Fries via his Chickie's & Pete's sports bars. But for more than 40 years, he has also been a dedicated Mummer, spending the last 18 New Year's Days dancing with the Polish American String Band. To help you get ready for this year's annual strut up Broad Street, we've asked Pete to keep a weekly diary as he and the band prep for this year's extravaganza.

This week we weren't able to get outside because of the weather and we had the snow on the ground and the real cold temperatures, so we weren't able to practice on Tuesday. So we practiced on Wednesday.

The band continues to get better and better. The music is really driving this band. It sounds so good. It was a very interesting practice. We did the drill numerous times in the gym at St. Aldalbert.

This week we had a little pep talk from our captain, Nick Magenta - do's and don'ts as we get to the crunch time, like: "Don't think we have it down so great you can miss practice."

Sometimes guys can get too confident. We still have a lot of work to do. And keep everything positive when you're talking about the band.

This week, we did the "street lineup." They tell you where you're going to stand while you're marching up Broad Street - not during the routine.

It's where you're going to stand all day, who's going to be on your right, who's going to be on your left, who's going to be in front of you, who's going to be in the middle, and who's going to be on the sides with the people.

Every time they mention someone's name, that person gets teased: "Oh, you're standing next to so-and-so, you're behind that one." They call each guy one at a time and go through the whole band.

I was fortunate because they put me on the east side of Broad Street, last row on the end. My son, Pete Jr., got the west side of the street on the end.

That's great for me because I've always said I enjoy the routines, I enjoy the competitiveness of the parade, but I enjoy the people and working the crowd the most. When we're stopped at different points on Broad Street, I'll be able to work the crowd and enjoy the children and their parents, and take pictures with people. If I was in the middle, I wouldn't be able to do that.

I can work the crowd and make them cheer. I can bring them into the street and dance with them. It really lets me do what I like to do best, and that's the parade. I love the parade. I enjoy the drill, but what I love is the parade.

To top the entire evening off, I was taken back to the clubhouse and the suits came in. Nick took me to the room where they are locked up, opened the door, and all you could see was suits.

There were white "explorers" suits and blue suits for the "Eskimos" and then I got to see my suit - Jack Frost. It's purple and blue and green, every color that seems to be cold. Seeing the suits you really understand the theme: Explorers, Eskimos and Jack Frost all meet at the North Pole.

- As told to Chuck Darrow