PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — There was no annual Philadelphia Mummers Parade on Friday. The city canceled the New Year’s Day event because of the pandemic, but that didn’t stop some from dressing up and getting their strut on.
Young and old danced in the streets of South Philly, just as they’ve done for so many New Year’s Days before.
“It’s tradition, just getting him into the South Philly tradition,” David Savage said.
Although Mayor Jim Kenney canceled the annual parade for COVID concerns, it didn’t deter the Savage family.
“We’ve got our masks on. We’ll be safe,” Savage said.
Many though were not always wearing theirs.
— Alicia Roberts (@ARobertsCBS) January 1, 2021
The Mummers String Band Association has publicly supported the city’s decision.
“We’re still strutting,” one man said.
Signs of protests were on full display, as several groups unofficially gathered near the Mummers Museum.
“As long as everybody is responsible, everybody wears their mask, people try to stay as far apart as possible, why can’t we continue to do what we’re doing?” one man said.
Most who marched were peaceful, thanking police out along Washington Avenue.
“They support us, we support them, we love them,” one man said.
Many came out not for politics, but for those who couldn’t.
“He’s deployed in Japan, first year he’s not been out with us. We’ve all got the same hoodies on and badges,” George Piccoli said.
Piccoli’s father, Georgi, died in August from COVID complications.
“My dad was a great guy and he just loved New Year’s, and he loved people,” he said.
Health officials are warning anyone who came out Friday to get tested for COVID, hoping to slow any spikes for the new year.
Earlier this week, Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said he hopes people decide not to gather.
“We’re not recommending people do gatherings anywhere, certainly not indoors, and not outdoors in large crowds of people because even though outdoors is safer than indoors, if you still get people close together, lots of possibilities for it to spread from one person to another so big crowds on New Year’s Day is not a good thing,” Farley said. “The city is not issuing a permit for the mummers, it won’t stop the mummers from gathering, but we’re asking them to please don’t gather on New Year’s Day. We don’t want to see a spike in infections from that event.”
But at night, despite the rain, many continued the party under tents here on Two Street. But for some …
“It wasn’t like the past few years, it wasn’t the same tradition that we’ve been doing for years. I feel like it would have been fine today if everybody wore their masks and everything,” said Harry Cochran with The Jacks NYB.
Still, many mummers support the city’s decision to cancel the parade this year, like the Mummers String Band Association.
“It was so unstressful, we slept in. We slept in today,” said the Josefowski couple.
The Jozefowskis are mummers in the Golden Sunrise Fancy Brigade. They stayed home and enjoyed the year off.
“We didn’t have to wake up at 4 or 5 in the morning to go to the club. Because, since we’re Golden Sunrise, they’re the first ones in the march,” Jozef Jozefowski said.
Molly Jozefowski works as a physician assistant and believes canceling the parade was the right decision.
“Being a health care worker, I think we just need to stay home and kind of suck it up for a year and look forward to 2022. Everybody just has to do their part,” she said.
The couple was married at the Mummers Museum in South Philadelphia and they’re now expecting their third child. They look forward to one day seeing their kids in a parade and also say next year’s parade could be the most intense.
Before the protest, a flier was going around the South Philadelphia neighborhood, around 2nd Street and Washington Avenue, asking for mummers not to show up, calling it a false parade and an unsanctioned event for the mummers.
CBS3’s Dan Koob, Alicia Roberts and Matt Petrillo contributed to this report.
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