Dec. 31, 2021

Special Episode: The Mummers Parade - An interview with Dr. Christian DuComb

Special Episode: The Mummers Parade - An interview with Dr. Christian DuComb

Mike Lueger of "The Theatre History Podcast" interviews Dr. Christian DuComb about the history of Philadelphia Mummers Parade, the history behind the iconic annual Philadelphia event, and the 'Mummers Wench'. 

Although I've added some additional material, originally this interview was originally released as Episode 55 of The Theatre History Podcast. There are notes and links on its website: https://howlround.com/theatre-history-podcast-55

To see our own blog entry about the the book "Haunted City", which contains many more fascinating insights about Philadelphia theater history, go to: https://www.aithpodcast.com/blog/christian-ducombs-haunted-city/

Some YouTube videos of Mummers Parade performances and Fancy Brigades competitions here are some great examples:

Historic footage of the 1958 parade (on what looks to have been a very windy January 1st):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PnPM9po7kGg

There is even old footage, with original sound, of the 1930 parade (CONTENT WARNING -  blackface masking and other racist imagery are quite prevalent in this one): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ASjC8ZY_a6s

Here is the Ferko String Band, the group we hear playing on this episode, performing in 1989, well after blackface was banned from the parade. But it's still "haunted" by it, as Dr. DuComb would say. This performance would fit in perfectly into a Primrose Minstrel show from the 1880s:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3JG7d6oiedI&t=1s

For a modern show here is a Fancy Brigade, the South Philly Vikings, with their 2017 winning performance in the competition at the Philadelphia Convention Center:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZ5mkEwlpzQ&t=1s

Finally, from January 1, 2020 (the most recent parade unaffected by the pandemic), this is a bravura performance - on the street in front of City Hall - from the South Philadelphia String Band: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oiBtsr2iPSc

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