By Hadas Kuznits

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Some Mummers brigades may be known for dressing up in women’s clothes during their New Year’s Day strut, but this coming year they’ll be working alongside some professionals.

Tim Johnson, a female impersonator who performs under the name “Stella D’oro,” says he was delighted to be asked to be part of the first-ever Mummers’ Drag Brigade.

“I mean, that’s how the Mummers started!  (It) was guys in dresses, and they have a great time doing it — it’s the one time of the year that they get to dress up,” he tells KYW Newsradio.  “I think we bring something different to (the parade) because this is something that we do all the time.”

Johnson was recruited by veteran Philadelphia drag performer Ian Morrison, also known as “Brittany Lynn.”  Ten drag queens will participate in the parade, each leading one of the fancy brigades and introducing them at the start of their Convention Center performances.

“This is a really big deal, this is history in the making — the first Drag Brigade,” Johnson said today.   “I do feel like things are opening up and people are becoming more open-minded.  We’ve had a lot of changes in politics and legislation and things, and I think the Mummers are just sort of coming along with that,” he added.