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Collaborative community of Mummers – Join in!


Post by Aryon Hoselton

It was a beautiful sunny morning in Philadelphia. Our “Global Warming Induced Perpetual Summer” became a reality in the unseasonal warmth of the Jan. 1, 2008 Mummers Parade. Jesse Engaard, Tip Flannery and I marched together for the first time as The Vaudevillains New Year’s Brigade.

NERD Island Tracing Wench Dresses
NERD Island tracing wench dresses for Mummer’s Parade

We had spent the preceding three months collaborating on our costumes and performance. Four years later and we are still Mumming. Flannery is the current captain of Vaudevillains, I am the captain of NERD Island and Engaard started a new brigade called the Rabble Rousers.

NERD Island pinning fabric for wench dresses
Pinning fabric for the wench dresses

“Adventure, Togetherness, Mayhem.” These are the qualities intrinsic in Mummery that inspired Engaard to start his own brigade this year with an entire new crop of Mummers. He applied the skills he learned from working with the Vaudevillains: “Find a common thread of excitement.  Get as many people in one room as many times as possible.  Provide food and beer.  Write down everything funny.  Fit it all into 2 minutes.  Buy fabric.  Set up sewing machines.”

Vaudevillains Sewathon
Vaudevillains sewathon is a tradition for them

The Vaudevillains’ Mummer formula includes two Marathon traditions; their annual Sew-a-thon, a Sewing Marathon at Space 1026 and a Vaudevillains’ Cheer Zone at the Philadelphia Marathon, a station at which brigade members have been cheering and dancing in costume for the past two years. Both events connect the brigade members’ passion for costume and performance with the rest of Philadelphia.

Vaudevillains Cheer Zone
Vaudevillains on parade

“NERD Island is looking for 100 people to become Mummers. Join Us.” states NERD Island’s website. The mission of my Mummer brigade is to build a new community through collaborative art making of Philadelphians who would not typically interact with each other. We are reaching out to any Philadelphian to become a mummer for the first time.

Vaudevillains Sewathon2
Vaudevillains sewathon

All three brigades continue to support each other up until the whistle blows for this year’s parade. Then it will be fierce competition in front of the judges at A Stand.

Vaudevillains New Years’ Parade in action

Mummers are about community. Even though we compete during the parade, we will be joining all three brigades for a reunion march down 2 Street later that night. And we’ll start planning for next year the morning after.