The annual Mummers Parade in Philadelphia has been a mainstay of New Year’s Day since 1901 and each year it seems to be a mix of the crazy and diverse. Then again, for some, it’s an exhibition in offensiveness that’s “problematic” for those who are possibly being maligned by the parade. And for others, it’s just typical Philadelphia.
This year saw plenty of everything and many didn’t seem to know what to make of it all. The responses were divided and varied, much like the sights and topics in the parade itself. One of the major points of division seemed to be a portion of the parade that mocked Bruce Jenner’s transition to Caitlyn Jenner, even using Jenner’s famous Wheaties box as a joke next to Caitlyn Jenner on the front of a box of Fruit Loops.
That wasn’t all that was controversial at the event, balanced out by a first time contingent of Hispanic and African African performers and a previous entrant from the LGBT community according to Philly.com:
Despite the inclusion of new minority groups, some critics decried the parade as offensive. In one group, performers – even children – had brown paint on their faces simulating Mexicans. Another group mocked the transgender Caitlyn Jenner.
Black Lives Matter activists organized a protest of the parade at City Hall.
For first-timers, the Mummers tradition brought surprises.
Ting Yu, a visiting scholar at Penn and a native of China, has seen plenty of dressing up, “with dragons and so forth. But no men in dresses!”
The response online showed a bit of what everybody was thinking, from outsiders to those who have experienced the parade before in the past.
If one thing stands out about the Mummers Parade, it is tradition. If it was something new to be offensive and wild during the parade, it might be a larger note. The idea that this has been around for more than 100 years, at varying degrees of behavior, explains the confusion a bit.
That said, there were many who attempted to use the parade to protest and raise awareness. A noteworthy presence were members of the Black Lives Matter movement who attempted to enter the parade route according to WPVI in Philadelphia:
Members of several groups, including Black Lives Matter and the Coalition for REAL Justice, gathered at 15th and Market Streets, across from Philadelphia City Hall.
The groups were protesting issues including police brutality, the public school funding crisis, minimum wage and military action in the Middle East.
Just to provide a look at how folks seemed divided online, here’s a selection of the anti-Mummers responses.
And here are some of the pro-voices:
For me, the most interesting aspect about the Mummers Parade is that nobody was hit in the head with a battery. And there was no float dedicated to Donald Trump. Given his candidacy for president up to this point, I feel like his absence is telling.