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Crunch Week For Mummers Fancy Brigades

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By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Mummers’ Fancy Brigades began assembling their extravagant floats in the Pennsylvania Convention Center, yesterday, in preparation for the 15th annual New Year’s Day “Show of Shows.” This week is crunch time, after a year of planning.

Trucks pulled in and out of the Convention Center, carrying giant set pieces: a dragon head, six-foot sea shells, sections of wall.

“Yo, move the wall over a bit.”

“Hold the float, hold the float.”

It was as if the Convention Center was housing ten different construction sites, as members of the various clubs unloaded trucks and set up scaffolding.

“Load-in day is controlled chaos,” says Jim Julia, president of the Fancy division.

Julia says about 40 members of his club, the Downtowners, will perform on Sunday and some 70 will push the giant floats. “It’s become as important as the members performing that those floats move on cue, because things are happening. There’s guys who are going to come out of different things. If that float’s not where it’s supposed to be, they don’t come and the judges don’t get that wow factor that supposed to bring it.”

John Bielec of the Satin Slipper brigade says, “We’re doing a Chinese theme, we’re going to try to form the Great Wall of China.”

Reporter: “The Great Wall of China! That’s pretty ambitious.”

“Well, it is a competition, you try to put something out there that’s going to give you a little bit of an edge, something different.”

Like all the fancies, they’ve been working for months on these floats and it all comes together this week. It’s a lot of work, but Bob Runowski of the Golden Crown says it’s worth it. “Best week of the year and if you ask anyone in here, they’ll share that same sentiment with you. It’s what we look forward to the whole year.”

There are two shows on Sunday at noon and 5 p.m. For ticket information, click here.

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