MANAYUNK will be mobbed by Mummers on Saturday when all 17 string bands march down Main Street in the first Philadelphia Mummers Mardi Gras Parade.
Postponed last weekend by wintry weather, the free, family-friendly, two-hour parade from Shurs to Green lanes is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. under forecasted cold, sunny skies.
The string bands will then serenade and schmooze with fans from noon to 4 p.m. in Manayunk restaurants.
A $10 contribution to the cash-strapped Mummers buys a bracelet to all after-parties plus food and drink discounts.
The Mummers Mardi Gras Parade is the brainchild of Roxborough resident Joe DeCandido, president of Advent Consulting, which produces neighborhood festivals.
When DeCandido invited four string bands to his restricted 21-and-over Mardi Gras party at the Piazza at Schmidt's in Northern Liberties last year, he was struck by how many children showed up and had to watch from behind police barricades.
"That didn't feel right," DeCandido said.
So for 2015, he asked Tom Loomis, president of the Philadelphia String Band Association, how to create a family-friendly Mummers Mardi Gras.
Loomis replied, "What we do best are parades."
DeCandido said, "Do you think we can get 10 string bands?"
Loomis quickly got all 17, including Pennsport String Band, which is not in the association.
Loomis and DeCandido pitched their parade to Jane Lipton, executive director of the Manayunk Development Corp., and found a kindred spirit.
"I remember going to the Mummers when I was 5, which is like 50 years ago now," Lipton said. "I remember going with my brother, my sister, my father and my grandfather, and having that thrill of what it's like to be at a Mummers parade in person.
"I still go down to the Mummers Parade," she said, "but I've noticed there are very few children there anymore. It made me a little sad that so many kids aren't getting that experience."
So, she said, when Loomis and DeCandido proposed a Mummers parade on Main Street, "I was like, 'Oh, my gosh! How great would it be to do a family-friendly event and line the street with kids who never had the experience of a small-town parade?' This is a no-brainer for Manayunk."
Loomis, the Woodland String Band's president for 25 years, said he looks forward to Saturday's parade as a rare chance for all the bands to play together in a noncompetitive show where families can get close to the action.
"Main Street is going to be as cozy as you can get," he said.
DeCandido said that with 42 police officers enforcing zero tolerance for open containers, Saturday's parade will be a safe, pleasant place to bring kids.
"If anyone is coming here for the wrong reasons," he said, "they can go into a bar. The parade is going to be a family day."