Philadelphia and the Countryside - Press Room

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Aug 22 2007

New Year's Gay: Start 2008 In Philadelphia

The Mummers Parade Means Glitter, Feathers And Fun For Gay Travelers To Philly

New Year’s Day is an all-day party in Philadelphia, and it’s all centered around the Mummers Parade, a 106-year-old tradition that is part of what many locals consider the best “gay” day of the year.

Parade Basics:
The heart of the New Year’s Day celebration in Philadelphia rests on the Mummers Parade. On January 1, 2008 at 8:00 a.m., more than 12,000 men, women and children, wearing fabulous costumes, dancing and playing music, begin their strut up Broad Street, passing the nearby “Gayborhood” on the way to City Hall.

Divided into four divisions made up of the comics, fancy clubs, string bands and fancy brigades, the Mummers wind their way though Philadelphia. The parade is a true street festival that takes its cues from old Europe; everyone is welcome to celebrate here as folks from all over the region don crazy costumes of sequins, boas, feathers and wigs to celebrate New Year’s Day, Philadelphia, life and family.

Gay-Friendly Mummers: Cops, Electricians And Construction Workers:
While all ages and economic backgrounds are represented in the Mummers organization, many members are working-class citizens (cops, electricians and construction workers), who take on a carnivaleseque face for New Year’s Day—and, who in another city, might have nothing to do with gay life or gay pride at all. But that’s where Philly and the Mummers are different.

The Mummers Parade itself is a spectacle that can be well appreciated by the gay community, and the Mummers organization has made a special outreach to welcome gay fans. In the late 1960s and 70s, the Mummers took the bold step of inviting drag queens to appear in the parade.

Today, the organization recognizes that the parade has a tremendous number of gay fans and is hopeful that this fan base will grow. The Mummers have appeared in many gay pride parades over the years—including Key West and San Francisco—both to help gays and lesbians celebrate pride and to encourage a visit to Philly on New Year’s Day.

The Mummers’ Fancy Brigades competition, held inside the Pennsylvania Convention Center and the only part of the parade that requires paid tickets, holds a special appeal to gay audiences. The Broadway-like renditions are first-rate, especially considering they’re performed by men and women with no professional training dressed in Viking costumes, as lions or a slew of other exotic characters and creatures. Two performances are held on New Year’s Day.

It All Comes Back To The Gayborhood:
Just blocks from the Pennsylvania Convention Center and City Hall, the “Gayborhood” is party central. Everyone—straight and gay, costumed Mummers and their fans—comes to the “Gayborhood” bars to continue the New Year’s Day festivities. Sisters and Woody’s are the headquarters for the party, where costumed heterosexual men pound beers with drag queens. A wild street party also runs into the early morning hours in South Philadelphia on Two Street, as 2nd Street is known in this part of town. The location of many of the Mummers’ clubhouses, Two Street welcomes parade participants, their families, friends and fans for a night of revelry.

The Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation (GPTMC) makes Philadelphia and The Countryside® a premier destination through marketing and image building that increases business and promotes the region’s vitality. For more information about travel to Philadelphia, visit www.gophila.com or call the Independence Visitor Center, located in Independence National Historical Park, at (800) 537-7676.

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Tagged: Holidays, LGBT

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