It’s usually a scary thing to challenge tradition in Philly, but in this case, a proposal to reverse the Mummers’ traditional January 1st parade route — so that it would now travel from City Hall south to Washington Avenue, skipping South Philly — comes from the Mummers themselves.
Why? Because City Hall is where “the daylong queue of string bands, comics, and elaborate floats” is judged. And it seems the Mummers think they — and everybody else — would have more fun if they got the judging over with first, and could spend the rest of the parade celebrating.
Tom Loomis, president of the 17-member Philadelphia String Band Association, said it this way: “What we have become is a line waiting to be judged. We’ve stopped being a parade.”
By starting at City Hall with the judging first, organizers hope, the event will become more parade-like and enjoyable for viewers and marchers.
“Taking the stress and angst of the competition out of the way, and just marching from City Hall to Washington, we can now focus on just entertaining people,” Loomis said.
And times change: South Philly used to be the heart of the parade, traditionally starting at Oregon Avenue. Neighborhood demographics have shifted, and Loomis said Mummers often face near-empty blocks when marching south of Washington.