PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Dancing wildly and toting parasols, colorful Mummers strutted their stuff Wednesday at the annual New Year's Day parade in Philadelphia.
Thousands of people lined the parade route as outrageously costumed and painted comic brigades and string bands marched up Broad Street, the city's main north-south thoroughfare. One Mummer even proposed to another in full view of the TV cameras Wednesday afternoon — and she said yes.
As usual, the string bands wowed with huge floats and clever themes like "California Here We Mum" — featuring a gigantic golden nugget — while men in dresses formed the so-called "wench" brigades.
Mummers clubs prepare all year for their big day.
"I think most people feel this happens just one day a year and no work or effort goes into it," Avalon String Band president Jim Ervin Jr. told The Philadelphia Inquirer. "People think you just go up to Broad Street and then you get drunk on Second Street. It's a lot more than that."
The fancy brigades, with their elaborate sets and dance routines, were scheduled to compete later Wednesday inside the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
The Mummers Parade is believed to be the nation's oldest folk festival.