For The Love of Mummers

As the sun sets on 2018, and Polish American String Band, along with all of the other string bands and Mummers’ Clubs, completes final preparations to take to Broad Street to ring in the New Year of 2019, we are very often asked about what goes into a string band performance. Recently, our friends over at Quaker City String Band have done a fantastic job of laying out the costs, both financially and in terms of time, which you can find at the linked articles. On this New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, though, we at PASB would like to take the time to thank all those behind the scenes who help us to make this crazy hobby happen.

So often, we are asked, “When do you start planning for your New Year’s Day show?” and the answer always comes back “January 2nd.” Often, people believe that we are joking when we say that, but as an organization, it takes every bit of the 364 days available to us to be able to plan, design, build, write, rehearse, finance, and execute a four-and-a-half minute show for New Year’s Day. Throughout that time, there are countless rehearsals, meetings, parades, fundraisers, concerts, drill practices, and a bevy of other events which occupy our members’ time, but behind every single one of those members are folks who sacrifice, inspire, and support us along the way. They are they unsung heroes of Polish American String Band and of Mummery.


Every step along the way, there is an army of spouses, children, significant others, neighbors, family, and friends who help to keep the tradition of Mummery alive in Philadelphia. They may not wear plumes or sequins, they may not play saxophones, banjos, accordions, or other musical instruments; you likely won’t see them on TV on New Year’s Day, and they never seem to look for the unending gratitude they deserve, but they are there, and without them, we would not be.

With the time and the resources that it takes to put together a New Year’s Day performance, there are countless sacrifices made. Missed parties, family functions, weddings, funerals, birthdays, anniversaries… there are many late nights and many early mornings… whether in the heat of summer or the dark of winter, there are plenty of holiday gatherings which are passed-over in exchange for a parade to provide some much-needed additional financing for a club or band. Yet despite these sacrifices, these very same folks are always still there asking, “What more can we do to help?”


None of this happens without the support of those we love and those who love us enough to be willing to make those sacrifices so that we may pursue this tradition, this hobby that we care so much about, and no matter which side of the makeup brush we may be on tomorrow, no matter whether on Broad Street or cheering us on from the stands or at home, every single one of us is every bit the Mummer as one another, and without their help, their support, and their understanding and patience which we can never repay, Mummery would be a memory rather than the ongoing Philadelphia New Year’s Day tradition that it still is.

We cannot thank them enough for all that they do for us, and for their love of Mummers!

From the bottom of our sequined hearts, THANK YOU!!

Kevin Sullivan