Mummers' strut moved to Sunday as rain dampens parade plan

The Associated Press
FILE- Members of the South Philadelphia String Band perform during the 116th annual Mummers Parade in Philadelphia on Jan. 1, 2016. The outdoor portion of Philadelphia’s famous and sometimes inflammatory New Year’s Day parade featuring the Mummers has been pushed to Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022, because of rain in the forecast. The indoor portion of the events that includes performances at the Pennsylvania Convention Center will still continue as planned on Saturday, Jan. 1. (AP Photo/Joseph Kaczmarek, File)

PHILADELPHIA  — The outdoor portion of Philadelphia's famous and sometimes inflammatory New Year's Day parade featuring the Mummers has been pushed to Sunday because of rain in the forecast.

The indoor portion of the events, including performances at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, will still continue as planned on Saturday, officials said. City officials also announced the New Year's Day fireworks planned for Penn's Landing at 6 p.m. are canceled because of the weather forecast.

The usual celebration viewed by thousands each year features string bands, comic brigades, elaborate floats and plenty of feathers and sequins, but it has also attracted persistent criticism over its long history of blackface displays and other inappropriate or offensive behavior by some participants. After last year’s parade, Mayor Jim Kenney threatened to end it if parade organizers didn’t clean up their act.

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It was canceled for only the second time in its more than 119-year history last year as part of city officials' pandemic mitigation plan. All large parades and events were prohibited for most of 2020.

Some Mummers held a protest gathering in their South Philly stomping grounds last year in protest of the decision. And this year, despite growing numbers of COVID-19 positives and hospitalizations, city officials declined to cancel the outdoor event— instead advising people to distance, wear masks and stay home if they feel sick.

City officials said most road closures and parking restrictions planned to start at 3 a.m. Saturday will now start Sunday at that time, but others starting this afternoon along Market Street will be extended through the end of the parade. The parade will follow the same planned route on Sunday, but park officials urged people to check its online map.

The Mummers Parade, believed to be the nation’s oldest folk festival, stems from a mixture of immigrant traditions, some dating back of the 1640s, dubbed “mummer,” probably from the German word for “mask.” It mixes the immigrant traditions of the Scandinavians who welcomed the new year with gunfire, the English and Welsh who entertained with masquerade plays, and the Germans credited with introducing Santa Claus to their new surroundings.