Most people stay up on New Year's Eve to be awake at 12:00 when the next year begins.
Not me. I go to bed early.
I go to bed early because I get up early on January 1 (basically 6:15 a.m.). I put on a satin-and-sequined costume and go to the clubhouse of the Two Street Stompers, a Philadelphia Mummers Parade comic brigade.
We wish each other a Happy New Year. We put on makeup and wigs. We partake of beverages of our choice. Then we get on buses and ride over to Philly to be in the Mummers Parade.
Our youngest marchers are actually carried or pushed in strollers. Not sure how old the oldest marchers are, but they are certainly senior citizens who know that being able to dance all day gives you a longer, healthier life.
Philadelphia has been hosting a Mummers Parade since 1901, when rowdy behavior in the neighborhoods was cause for concern. Now the parade is a tradition, and I think the Powers-That-Be have been trying to marginalize it for awhile. Good luck with that, because 10,000 marchers and over eight hours of entertainment aren't going to be something you just sweep under the rug.
The parade was live-streamed on computer and broadcast on t.v. Ahem. Our Two Street Stomper routine lasted exactly one minute and 52 seconds, and somehow the network cut to a commercial after the first five seconds, resuming live coverage with five seconds left in the routine. Basically a commercial break of two minutes right in the middle of a routine? Curious. Could our content be deemed worthy of censorship?
It's difficult to get a video of the routine. Even in these days of YouTube. With that in mind, I hereby re-create it with still photographs shamelessly stolen from the Internet.
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, WELCOME TO THE MISS MUMMERDELPHIA PAGEANT, 2015!
Out comes our "host," Donald Trump (a member in a suit and wig) and all the kids under 12, dressed as judges with cute white wigs.
OUR FIRST CONTESTANT, FROM 9TH AND WASHINGTON, MISS ITALIAN MARKET, IN HER SWIM SUIT!
(cue "Rocky" music)
SHE'S A REAL KNOCKOUT.
OUR NEXT CONTESTANT, FROM 8TH AND ARCH, MISS CHINATOWN!
(This was the unit I was in.)
(cue Donna Summer, "Lookin' for Some Hot Stuff")
SHE'S HOT AND STEAMY.
OUR NEXT CONTESTANT, FROM 5TH AND CHESTNUT, MISS OLD CITY, DOING HER SPECIAL TALENT, THE MUMMER STRUT!
(Miss Old City's unit limps out, then cue music, "Get Up Off Of That Thing." The whole unit, with Miss Old City front and center, begins the energetic and traditional Mummer strut.)
AND THE WINNER IS, MISS OLD CITY!
(Miss Old City is crowned.)
HAPPY NEW YEAR! HAPPY NEW YEAR! HAPPY NEW YEAR!
And we're finished. Exit stage right, onto Broad Street.
The weather was absolutely glorious.
And, thanks to some special fans on Broad Street, I got this terrific image of Self and Spare.
The Two Street Stompers strutted. And strutted. And strutted. We were on Broad Street, basically Philadelphia's main drag, and the cross traffic was allowed to go at the green lights. It took us a long time to complete our entire circuit. Not that we minded. Did I mention that the weather was beautiful?
Between the weather and our general good humor, the miles seemed like ... well, today I must say they felt like miles, because my bones ache from stem to stern. At the time they felt more like furlongs.
At length we danced up to the banquet hall on Oregon Avenue, where a warm lunch awaited. (Beverages are distributed bountifully along the route.) As we chowed down, our captain came in, hushed us all, and told us ...
...Some members who passed away this year looked down upon us, and ...