January 3rd, 2014

green leaves

New year's in Philadelphia

Fireworks: I think I've found a good place to watch the Penn's Landing fireworks-- Columbus Boulevard, somewhere north of Christian Street, there's a projection out into the river which gives a very nice view, but isn't crowded. More research might be a good idea-- now that I think about it, I can scout the area on days when there aren't fireworks.

Penn's Landing itself is completely unsatisfactory-- there's way too much ground light, and the bridge structure gets in the way. I think part of being local is having strong opinions about the best place to see fireworks.

As for the display itself, about 12 minutes long, very good. Nothing I'd call surprising, but large and beautiful. There were a lot of coppery colored fireworks-- more of that than the more usual slightly purple red, and a little bit of golden yellow that I liked very much.

I caught a good bit of the Mummers Parade-- I got out late, so I missed the comics, but I saw most of the string bands and all of the fancies (dancers with recorded music). There's a drag king/queen brigade, but I missed it, and there's surprisingly little video available.

The Mummer's Parade is a sort of elaborated ridiculousness that appeals to me a lot. There's nothing like getting a good look at a scary eight-foot tall airbrushed skull painting on what seems to be a front end of a pirate ship. (At that point, I hadn't made my way to a point where I could see the performances, so I saw the floats in sections. I'm sure the huge purple octopus with orange undersides on its tentacles would have looked even better when it was put together.) Anyway, it's not just a skull painting, the edges are painted with silver glitter, and there's a gold tooth.

I'm very fond of the surfing string band. The musicians are dressed in long swimming trunks with pastel stripes and mummerified hawaiian shirts-- white shirts with large flowers and such picked out in (you guessed it) glitter. They are wearing ..... things .... on their heads. Not wigs, but flat orange yellow cloth helmets which are presumably supposed to represent blond wigs.

There's a twenty foot (all heights estimated) tall float which has a wave curling over on top. Three mummers are standing on surfboards on a platform near the top, waving their arms more or less as though they're surfing while the string band plays Beach Boys songs. At the high point, we realize that the surfboards have wheels as the mummers coast down the long ramp on the front of the float.

I realize CGI could do a much better illusion, but I get a kick out of such things in the real world.

There are occasional mysteries. Why are ancient Romans fighting goblins? Why are there baboons in a Wizard of Oz themed band? Why is there an octopus/ancient Roman theme (not the same ancient Romans who were fighting goblins and gargoyles)-- with the octopi combined with the Roman costumes?

I'll just mention the last fancy, and one of the best-- it made me glad I stayed to the end, even though it was getting cold and the light was beginning to fade. It was a zombie harlequin production. The costumes were polished, but the people had zombie make-up, and were doing classic zombie moves, and there was a sub-group in widow's weeds.

There was no steampunk in the part of the parade I saw, but it's completely natural for the Mummers, and something to look forward to in future years.

Happy New Year, best wishes in general, and I hope you have as much fun with something as I have with the Mummers.

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