No calculator or computer for Postal Service Budget and Financial Analyst Dennis Palandro — it’s sequins, satin and feathers as he struts his stuff in the Philadelphia Mummers Parade on New Year’s Day. "I’ve been involved in the parade for the past 37 years," said the 26-year postal veteran. "I’m now the captain of the South Philadelphia String Band."
A Mummer is a masked or costumed entertainer and Mummers String Bands are known for their unique sound as well as their elaborate costumes. Brilliant materials, glitter, sequins and feathers are all combined to make the showy costumes. Captains, like Palandro, make their elaborate debut doing the "2 Street Strut" in every parade. The parade route follows Broad Street from South Philly through Center City toward City Hall.
Postal Service Budget and Financial Analyst Dennis Palandro struts his stuff in the Philadelphia Mummers Parade
Local clubs — known as "New Years Associations" — compete in four categories: comics and their offshoot the wench brigades, fancies, string bands and fancy brigades. The tradition in Philadelphia started in the late 17th century as a continuation of the Old World customs of ushering in the New Year.
Some of the earliest mummers date back to early Egypt, pagan Rome and Greece, England, Germany and France. Historically, Mummery has influenced customs and perpetuated many traditions. Every nation had its festivals marked by parades and displays of fanciful costumes — all passed on from generation to generation — and eventually these traditions were brought to America by immigrants.
Mummery in America is as unique to Philadelphia as Mardi Gras is to New Orleans. "I was born and raised in South Philly," Palandro said. "This is my heritage and now my son is involved; it’s his heritage too."