The annual Jan. 1 spike in Google searches for “hangover cure” proves that in most places, the first thought of the New Year is about how to recover from the previous night.
In Philly, our hangover is delayed — thanks to the Mummers.
The morning after NYE, the ever-evolving clan of once-a-year carnivalists rouse themselves early, don costumes they’ve been crafting for months and strut their stuff in front of crowds and judges as part of the annual Mummers Parade.
Though day-drinking isn’t officially sanctioned, many continue the previous night’s festivities the whole way through the year’s cardinal day. Even those who take a break from tippling to perform (it can be tough to pirouette in sync if you’re sloshed) pick back up with gusto at the Mummers’ traditional Two Street party that night. For those keeping track, that’s nearly 24 hours of continuous boozing with coordinated, vigorous activity mixed in.
How do they do it? Is there a trick that keeps them going, or saves them from heavy suffering?
Prevention and (believe it or not) moderation
One tactic is to save the real partying for the second half of the haul.
“You might be surprised to find out that many of my Mummer friends take it very easy on New Year’s Eve,” said Bill McCay, 30-year member of the Avalon String Band. “We are rarely hungover on New Year’s Day. Jan. 2 is an entirely different story!”
Some — especially younger Mummers — still go for broke on Dec. 31, but arm themselves with preventatives. Justyn Myers, captain of the Lobsters (the oldest club in the Comics division), just returned from traveling in Southeast Asia, where he nabbed a supply of turmeric pills.
“I’m giving the pills to my whole club so they don’t get sick from the alcohol,” he confided a few days before the parade. “It’s what Japanese businessmen use.”
Other Mummers claim they simply don’t get hangovers, an assertion that’s echoed by around 23 percent of people who drink.
“I’ve never gotten ‘em,” bragged Justin Adane, bartender at Bar in Midtown Village and 8-year member of the Mollywoppers NYB, part of the Murray Comics. In Adane’s case, the boast might well be true — his nickname is “Happy Hour,” after all — but many of his co-carousers aren’t so lucky.
“They carry Pedialyte beneath their costumes,” he let on, “and swig from the bottle throughout the day.”
Beyond pickle juice
Turns out electrolyte replenishment is a theme in many Mummer recovery rituals.
Most of the year, Jason Brinn is the director of development for the national Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. But on New Year’s Day, he’s first and foremost a member of the Froggy Carr club in the Wench Brigades. Brinn’s dad was a Mummer, so he spent his childhood in the clubhouses on Second Street and has mummed in more than 20 parades over the course of his 38 years.
“My dad’s remedy was lots of coffee and lots of bread,” he recalled. “Any kind of bread. He didn’t drink beer — 7 and 7s were his thing — and he swore eating lots of kaiser rolls would soak it all up.”
Brinn’s own solution is slightly different: “Gatorade. Either red or orange Gatorade; those work the best.”
South Philadelphian Peter Clemmer, also in Froggy Carr, has a more explicit recipe for morning-after redemption, one he promises “works every time.”
“Here’s the shopping list,” he said, laying his secrets bare. “One banana, one can of energy drink, one 5-hour Energy, one multivitamin.” You’re advised to take them all at once, relying on the banana to give you potassium “to help with the crawly feeling,” the vitamin “for obvious reasons,” the energy drink for a quick wake-up, and the 5-hour shot to provide extended energy “without the crash.”
Bring on the grease
There might be even less of a scientific explanation for it, but rejuvenating with a healthy helping of greasy food is also a common strategy.
Jason Brinn’s curative Gatorade is best accompanied by a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder (with cheese), and Bill McCay’s Jan. 2 consists of clubhouse cleanup followed by a smorgasbord of Chinese food.
For Mike Gibson, a 16-year member of the Comics’ Finnegan NYB, the whole experience is about endurance. “You wake up around 5 a.m. on New Year’s Day, and from there, it’s a game of how long you can last,” he explained.
After making it to the finish line, he gets back on track with a specific order from Family Style Pizza at 70th and Passyunk in Southwest Philadelphia. “Cheese fries (the kind with lots of Cheez Whiz on them), a hoagie grinder and a small personal cheese pizza,” he recounted, adding: “Then I try to force myself to go for a run.”
The dog that bit ya
Then there’s the time-honored tradition of battling a hangover by returning to its source.
McCay’s Chinese feast is washed down with “copious amounts of beer,” and Gibson’s Family Style Pizza spread is preceded by a Bloody Mary — something he assumes is de rigeur (“Like most people, I guess,” he said). Myers’ Lobsters use a special batch of homemade moonshine to ward off headaches…or at least, postpone them.
“Just keep drinking, a little hair of the dog,” offered Dan Grimes, longtime member of Comics club Jesters NYB.
“Crush one beer and you’ll be ready for a nap after — then you’re good to go!”