Mummers Parade canceled, but thousands plan to protest New Year's Day

Wednesday, December 23, 2020
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Leadership within the divisions of the Mummers are distancing themselves from a planned protest that's been garnering support online.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Leadership within the divisions of the Mummers are distancing themselves from a planned protest that's been garnering support online.

Some declared that if there is a protest, it'll be at the hands of members that have either gone rogue or aren't actual Mummers.

Things have been unusually quiet down in South Philadelphia lately and residents are noticing.

"This time of year, you'd hear Fralinger going, you'd hear the Pirates going. You don't hear it anymore," said resident Shane O'Donnell, reminiscing about the signature sounds of string bands and brigades rehearsing ahead of the annual New Year's Day parade.

But like most things, it too has been paralyzed by the pandemic. There will be no parade this year.

SEE ALSO: New Mummers content planned for New Year's Day 2021 despite parade cancelation

"It's dismal. And there's a lot of people hurting that are out of work and their business aren't open. So, it's definitely affecting the Christmas and New Year's season," O'Donnell said.

However, thousands say they are planning to march, rather protest, on New Year's Day.

A Facebook group titled "Mummers/New Year's Day Peaceful Protest Against Mayor Kenney" so far has more than 2,600 RSVPs, with more than 8,000 who say they are interested in attending.

"Well, I think it's important to remember that the bulk of the Mummers and their organized groups made clear that they weren't going to march this year," said Mayor Jim Kenney during Tuesday's COVID-19 briefing.

Kenney asked those that plan to protest to reconsider, but respects their right to.

"We'll try to keep them safe. If they would wear a mask that would be helpful," said Kenney.

A city spokesperson also tells Action News in a statement, "As experienced in the summer with the protests, the city is prepared to manage crowds and groups while upholding public safety."

Two divisions of the Mummers, the Comics and the String Band Association issued a joint statement Tuesday reiterating their support for the cancelation of this year's parade, adding that it would not be prudent to have their members or spectators gather.

The Fancy Division also issued a similar statement, saying in part, "The Fancy Division has worked alongside local officials and leaders from all divisions of the parade to fully support the City of Philadelphia's decision to cancel the 2021 parade in an effort to keep both our participants and spectators safe."

Still, for those longing for tradition, like Mummer Michael Russo, this holiday season is a bit less magical.

"It's very depressing around this neighborhood," Russo said. "It's like taking away Christmas."