My Adventure with America’s Oldest Folk Festival

To start, Happy New Year!  After a much needed break from writing I’m back in action!

Mummers 2013The Mummer’s is considered to be one of the oldest Folk Festivals in the United States.  For those of you that have never had the opportunity to observe what goes on in the streets, it’s pretty much an eight  hour parade celebrating much of our heritage whether it be English, German, Irish or even African.  It’s the one day every year where those within the City of Brotherly Love all unite in the streets in order to eat, drink and be merry with both family and friends.  The culture of the parade is long and deep so if you want to learn more about this 17th Century tradition, Wikipedia has it all here.

In recent years however, tradition has gave way to being more receptive and welcoming to other people’s cultures.  Changes like the recent inclusion of women into these private Mummer clubs are only the beginning of bringing the city together.  This was the first year that Drag Queens were also not only allowed to walk in the parade, but perform within the Philadelphia Convention Center New Year’s night.  Now typically on New Year’s day, it was always my family’s tradition to just tune into the Mummer’s being televised on one of the major channel networks and we would just let it run from 10 AM to about 9:30 PM (that’s right, it’s a 12 hour celebration in the city) but this year, Philly Phamous Drag Queen, Brittany Lynn (Ian Morrison) asked me to take part in her performance!

So here’s what went down:

Matt O'Neill and Britney Lynne, Mummer's 2013

After getting in at 5 AM from my New Year festivities, I woke up around 10:00 to get ready for the day’s adventure.  After waking my still sobering friends, we got ready and headed for the parade.  From our location we were only 10 blocks from the event and with a few cups of coffee, we were anxious to see everyone.  Now like I said above, this was the first year the Philadelphia Queens were allowed to march in the parade along side many of the other long standing groups of Mummers.  So our first task was to find the girls.  That wasn’t to difficult as they were the most elegant batch of women in the parade. Click here for a video from their walk…the crowd loved them!

At the conclusion of their march, all the queens, judges and myself took off for the Philadelphia Convention Center where a crowd of 3,000+ fans were waiting to see the show.  It was so exciting to be at the show not only being able to watch these performers who spend the entire year getting ready for their 4.5 minutes of fame, but to see history being made as well with the Queen’s inclusion.

Being the second act, I got my military garb on and marched out to the center of the stage where the crowed awaited Britney, Joey and I.  As I prepared for my shining moment I thought to myself, “This is it Matt, this is your moment…the moment you get punched in the face.”  That’s right, my main job was to get punched by The Joker and fall to the floor.  Luckily for me however, I had a women come to my aid.  So not only was I over powered by a clown, but also saved by a girl with a rope.  Thank you Wonder Women.

Matt O'Neill and Britney Lynne, Mummer's 2013

I have you say at the conclusion of the show, all the girls did amazing, all the Mummers strutted their stuff, and the crowd enjoyed their night.  It was one of the best ways to ring in the New Years, not only helping to make history, but also take part in America’s Oldest Folk Festival.

+Matt O’Neill



Filed under Personal

3 responses to “My Adventure with America’s Oldest Folk Festival

  1. Were the Drag Queen Performances in the Convention Center ever televised at all? I wanted to see them but at 8pm when the performances were on they never showed the Drag Queen’s performances. Now maybe they did it at the end but I have no idea.

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