IT'S TRADITION, NOT golden slippers or strumming banjos, that fuels the Mummers' Broad Street strut every Jan. 1, bringing crowds of fans downtown to cheer the procession on.
Partly sunny conditions and a comfortable temperature (49 is the expected high) are on tap for Philadelphia's Mummers Parade, which starts at 9 a.m. as the Golden Sunrise Fancy Club steps off from City Hall, followed at 9:30 by those raucous bloomer-and-bonnet pranksters, the Wench Brigades. The Comics step off about 10:30 a.m.
Around 1 p.m., the String Bands will perform for the judges at City Hall (15th Street and JFK Boulevard), then march down Broad Street, entertaining crowds with their trademark musical productions. (See below for the bands' order of march, themes, and other details provided by Joe Leso.)
The glittering Fancy Brigades will offer two indoor performances, at 11:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. (judging) in the Convention Center, at 11th and Arch Streets. A dozen groups featuring a total of 2,500 performers are part of this Fancy Brigade finale. (Reserved seats are $20 and $25, spectratix.com or 800-298-4200.) After their 11:30 performances, the Fancy Brigades will join the String Bands on Broad Street.
The parade route runs down Broad to Washington Avenue, with additional performance zones at the Creative and Performing Arts School (901 S. Broad St.) and at Broad Street and Washington Avenue.
Two new groups join the parade this year: Southeast by Southeast, showcasing Philadelphia's Southeast Asian residents; and the Philadelphia Pan Stars Steel Orchestra, a Trinidadian steel drum ensemble from the city's Elmwood section.
Several groups that made their debut in 2016 are returning in the Comics: San Mateo Carnavaleros, highlighting Mexican culture; the LGBT Miss Fancy Brigade; and Second 2 None, an African American drill team from West Philly.
And the Kimmel Center, at Broad and Spruce Streets, will for the 12th year open its doors for a free family celebration with hot chocolate, music, and activities from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more ideas on what you can do in Philly on New Year's Day, click here.
This family-friendly celebration of all things Mummers runs Wednesday through Saturday at the Convention Center. Watch clubs rehearse, take a backstage tour led by seasoned Mummers, make crafts, and more. Admission is $4 at the door. Info at fancybrigade.com.
The String Band march
Here's the order of march and other details about the String Bands. (Thanks again, Joe Leso!) Note: The number in parenthesis next to the band name indicates its 2016 prize.
Marching position: 1
Captain: Carmen Maniaci
Join the fun as Avalon, wearing their finest flannel, plays some timber tunes in a fantastic forest of wild creatures. It's a woodchopper's ball for these bearded musicians. Captain Maniaci, in his second year leading the band, makes his entrance sliding down a log flume.
Marching position: 2
Captain: Ted Kudrick
A lost guppy stumbles into the undersea domain of King Neptune, where he is taken on a whirlwind tour by the king. To earn his fins, he must face fierce undersea creatures like sharks, blowfish, and jellyfish. Other sea creatures include the squid princess, clown fish, and turtles performing to lighthearted sea favorites, including "Under the Sea" and "Octopus's Garden."
Marching position: 3
Captain: Thomas D'Amore
Theme: We Stand As ONE
Celebrating the beliefs, music, and spiritual influence of Native Americans through song and costuming. The music offers unique twists on standard and nontraditional songs. Watch for the Great Spirit Eagle. Captain D'Amore makes his debut.
South Philadelphia (1)
Marching position: 4
Captain: Denny Palandro
Theme: Awaken the Dragon
The defending champions celebrate the traditions, people, images, and festivals of Chinese culture. Take a journey through gardens and pagodas; experience the elegance of the opera, the majesty of the butterfly, and the rising beauty of the phoenix.
South Philadelphia consulted with numerous Asian American organizations in preparing this tribute to Chinese culture.
Marching position: 5
Captain: Jamie Caldwell
Theme: Mr. Future
A glimpse into the funky world of tomorrow, with teleporters, jet packs, flying cars, and dancing robots. Familiar songs include "Funky Town," "Rocket Man," the themes from The Jetsons, "Back to the Future," and "Star Man." Captain Caldwell portrays "Mr. Future," a half-human, half-cyborg.
Marching position: 6
Captain: Charlie Nicholas
Theme: Tiki Island Jungle Jivin'
Pennsport takes you from the shores of an enchanted South Pacific island into the jungle. It's a tiki oasis, featuring musical animals, singing inhabitants, and bursting flowers, accompanied by a mix of pop songs performed in an island style. Captain Nicholas is the witch doctor.
Marching position: 7
Captain: Peter A. Broomall
Theme: Clowntown Showdeo
The rodeo has come to a close. The bull riders, calf ropers, and bronco riders are long gone. Time for the rodeo clowns to put on their showdeo. Broomall's Rodeo Clowns will be outfitted in colorful Western attire. Cowboy- and clown-themed musical selections.
Marching position: 8
Captain: Joe (Asti) Pomante
Theme: Gnome Sweet Gnome
The life of a garden gnome is play and hard work as they sing and dance along the way. Always prepared, these gnomes even turn mushrooms into umbrellas during a storm. Captain Pomante is Father Gnome. The backdrops and props have been designed to create an illusion of smallness. Durning is known for its comedic, whimsical themes.
Marching position: 9
Captain: John Baron (1)
Theme: The Golden Gala
You are cordially invited to spend a classical music evening at the Mansion at Hegeman Manor's Golden Ballroom Gala. This symphonic soiree will include introductions in the Rose Garden, cocktails and champagne, a dynamic dinner, and festivities.
Our hostess is Madame Elle Gant (Captain Baron, 2016's first-prize captain), who makes an impressive entrance. Watch for her gravity-defying hairdo and the baroque costuming.
Marching position: 10
Captain: Ken Maminski
Theme: Mine Blown!
Join Aqua's crew of engineers, diggers, and mechanics as they mine for gems. Hear a train thundering down rickety tracks, the dynamite explosions, plus the pickax dancers. The score features train and mountain tunes. Captain Maminski is the Mountain King.
Quaker City (6)
Marching position: 11
Captain: Jim Good
Theme: Winter Is Coming
The subzero spectacle begins with a chain-reaction avalanche revealing the hidden village of the Arctic King, with hunters, fur trappers, and explorers. Ceremonial, ritual dances, and battles abound.
White Siberian tigers, walruses, and the Mighty Mammoth are also featured. Wintry musical selections. Captain Good is the mystical Arctic King. Watch for the sleigh launch.
Marching position: 12
Captain: Scott Wray
Gazing into the Omnipotent Sorcerer's crystal ball, illusion shatters into reality as a spellbinding performance unfolds. Fralinger's musical cast of witches, warlocks, and wizards await. The wise old owl and his gang have tricks, as well. The king of all fantastic beasts, the fearsome dragon, appears at the finale. Captain Wray is the sorcerer.
Marching position: 13
Captain: Tom Robison
Theme: Carnival: Primeiro de Janeiro
Welcome to the largest celebration in the world, the carnivals in Rio de Janeiro. Revel in the percussion sounds of the batucada drums and samba whistles on the sound track of well-known songs associated with Brazil. Colorful costumes and extraordinary scenery evoke vibrant Brazilian culture. Woodland is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year.
Polish American (7)
Marching position: 14
Captain: Nick Magenta
Theme: Villainville Up'Evil
Disney villains take over Broad Street as the Old Hag pries open the gates to Villainville, and chaos ensues. We encounter nefarious wrongdoers such as Jafar, Captain Hook, the Evil Queen, and the Big Bad Wolf.
Maleficent, portrayed by Captain Magenta, appears to chase away the Queen of Hearts and Mad Hatter. She and her scalawag pals Cruella de Vil and Ursula tower over Villainville. Contemporary Disney tunes.
Greater Overbrook (14)
Marching position: 15
Captain: Bill Razzano
Theme: Mum Potion #9
Greater Overbrook enters the paradoxically joyful and sinister world of voodoo. It's a ritual of good vs. evil, life vs. death, and man vs. woman. Captain Razzano's costume offers contrasting references to romance and black magic as he concocts potions in his laboratory. Song selection is Top 40 hits from the last several decades.
Greater Kensington (12)
Marching position: 16
Captain: Jeff Moyer
Theme: The Band, the Myth,
Greater Kensington depicts the mythology of ancient Greece. The Heroic General, Captain Moyer, leads his band of Spartan and Athenian soldiers. The Trojan Horse, Medusa, Pegasus, and Zeus appear.