Though I live close to Philly, I’ve never gone to this important masquerade. The masks and costumes are something everyone should experience. Better yet, the participants and audience (which includes tourists) are having a great time together. A lot of beer is consumed. New friends are made. Great fun!
The Mummers Parade is held each New Year’s Day in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is believed to be the oldest folk festival in the United States. Local clubs (usually called “New Years Associations”) compete in one of four categories (comics, fancies, string bands, and fancy brigades). They prepare elaborate costumes, performance routines, and moveable scenery, which take months to complete. This is done in clubhouses – many of which are on or near 2nd Street (called “Two Street” by some local residents) in the Pennsport neighborhood of the city’s South Philadelphia section – which also serve as social gathering places for members.
The parade traces back to mid-17th-century roots, blending elements from Swedish, Finnish, Irish, English, German, and other European heritages, as well as African heritage. The parade is related to the Mummers Play tradition from Britain and Ireland. Nowadays in Philly the majority of participants and audience are of Irish or Italian decent. Visit Wikapedia for more information and photos.