On an unseasonably warm Sunday morning, a century of tradition marched down Broad Street for the annual Mummers Parade.
Spectators enjoyed sunshine and temps hovering around 60 degrees, but kept the holiday spirit going — there were at least a dozen Santa outfits among the crowd, and just as many “2023” sunglasses floating around.
Called the oldest folk parade in the country, the annual New Year’s Day event is an unavoidable piece of Philly’s history. Despite skits and displays that have repeatedly drawn complaints about racism, sexism, and hate speech over the years, thousands lined the Avenue of the Arts to catch a glimpse of the troupes dancing their way along the route with colorful costumes and floats.
Around 10,000 marchers participate each year, according to the Mummers. There are about 40 different “clubs,” of five types: Comics, Fancies, Fancy Brigades, String Bands and Wench Brigades. Each has its own style, and each troupe within them creates a unique act or performance every year. It’s a whole thing.
To some, the parade is a way to honor loved ones they’ve lost by continuing a tradition that spans generations. Marcher Molly Dougherty and half a dozen friends formed a group calling itself “Baby’s First Parade.” Dougherty recently lost her father, she said, and is participating this year as a way to honor him.
Others have called for the parade to be dismantled, or at least for the city to cut all ties. Sensitivity training has been mandated since 2016.
The Mummers got their own corporate sponsor for 2023 — Live Casino, which allowed for a broadcast on new station MeTV2/WFMZ. But like other public events, the city does pay for security and sanitation, which this year is expected to cost upwards of $650,000, due to Sunday overtime.
But after more than two years of lessened public gatherings, the atmosphere was joyful as thousands of Philadelphians strutted down Broad Street in sparkly costumes, with double-decker buses and string and brass bands in tow.
Scroll down to check out some of the highlights from the 2023 Mummers Parade.