NORTH WILDWOOD — The city had a New Year’s Day feel Saturday. Only it was much much warmer.
Nine different Philadelphia-area based Mummers string bands paraded down Olde New Jersey Avenue for the 17th annual Mummers Brigade Weekend.
Joe Quattrone, North Wildwood’s entertainment director, said thousands of people visit the city for the small parade featuring the folk festival performers dressed in bright, colorful costumes. The city invites nine of the top string bands that performed in the annual parade in Philadelphia on New Year’s Day.
“People hear about the Mummers, but they don’t always have the chance to see them,” he said. “It’s a big Mummers community down here. One way or another, people here have Mummers connections. It’s a natural fit down here.”
West Deptford, Gloucester County, resident Dave Maahs, president of the 92-year-old Philadelphia-based Aqua String Band, said the North Wildwood parade is more relaxed than the big holiday show.
“New Year’s Day is a competition. The whole parade, you play for the judges,” the 32-year band member said. “Here, the parade is more for the people.”
Frank Rapone, a member of the Quaker City String Band, said the bands perform at a number of events throughout the year. He said the North Wildwood parade’s route is only a few short blocks and allows the band members to have more fun.
“There’s a misconception we’re just a New Year’s Day event,” he said. “We perform all year long.”
Cape May residents Joan and Bob Minix said they attend the parade every year to see the Mummers and prefer the local parade over waking up early on New Year’s Day and driving to Philadelphia.
“This is better because you don’t have to deal with the cold weather,” Joan Minix said. “You can sit in the shade and get all the enjoyment.”
Quakertown, Pa., residents Bill and Terri Worthington make an annual weekend trip to North Wildwood for the event. Terri Worthington is originally from Illinois, and she said she loves the Mummers experience.
“It’s so fun. I’ve never seen anything like the Mummers before,” she said. “I love them. I can’t help it. Their costumes are bright and shiny, and they make you happy.”
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