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Code Blue Mummers showed true grit | Stu Bykofsky

Stu Bykofsky, STAFF COLUMNIST

Updated: Monday, January 1, 2018, 6:07 PM

Jerry Murphy, of the Two Street Strutters Comic Division, decided to strut down Broad Street sans jacket or shirt on one of the coldest Mummers Parades ever.

It was a Code Blue Monday, and cops should have been sweeping characters off the frigid streets and into shelters, but that is not the Mummers Way on New Year’s Day.

A slow camera shutter speed captures the motion of the lighted Vikings on a darkened stage as they perform "King Neptune's Return to the Reef," bringing the coral reef to life at the Mummers Fancy Brigade show inside the Convention Center January 1, 2018. TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
The Golden Crown perform "Out of the Web," journeying to a secret garden at the Mummers Fancy Brigade show inside the Convention Center January 1, 2018. TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
The Spartans perform "Theater of the Masquerade," at the Mummers Fancy Brigade show inside the Convention Center January 1, 2018. TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
Downtowners Captain Anthony Stagliano, Jr., gets back up, and the show goes on, after he fell to the floor when his perch atop a giant lion collapsed during their performance of "Master-Pieces," at the Convention Center during the first "Family" show inside the Convention Center January 1, 2018. TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
Captain Jack Hatty Jr., (center) leads Saturnalian as they perform "The Greatest Show on Earth," looking back on the Big Top circuses after the closing of Barnum and Bailey at the Mummers Fancy Brigade show inside the Convention Center January 1, 2018. TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
Saturnalian perform "The Greatest Show on Earth," at the Mummers Fancy Brigade show inside the Convention Center January 1, 2018. TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
Luke Paul Polchenko, 18 months old, is escorted back to his mother's seat in the he Convention Center by his uncle Yank Donnelly, after his first appearance with Saturnalian, at the Mummers Fancy Brigade show January 1, 2018. They performed "The Greatest Show onEarth." TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
Satin Slipper performs "Pagemaster," a collection of interpretations of classic adventure tales at the Mummers Fancy Brigade show inside the Convention Center January 1, 2018. TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
Captain Rocco Tursi (center) sings in the rain with Clevemore, as they perform "Lights, Camera, Action!" celebrating classic cinema at the Mummers Fancy Brigade show inside the Convention Center January 1, 2018. TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
Clevemore performs "Lights, Camera, Action!" celebrating classic cinema at the Mummers Fancy Brigade show inside the Convention Center January 1, 2018. TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
Members of the South Philadelphia String Band perform down Broad street, during the 118th annual Mummers Parade in Philadelphia on Monday, Jan 1, 2018. JOSE F. MORENO / Staff Photographer
Member of the Avalon String Band saxophone player, Jim Crompton takes a moment to look at his cell phone, before performing down Broad Street in the 118th annual Mummers Parade in Philadelphia. Monday, Jan 1, 2018. JOSE F. MORENO / Staff Photographer
Member of the Avalon String Band, Jim Crompton plays the saxophone during the 118th annual Mummers Parade in Philadelphia. Monday, Jan 1, 2018. JOSE F. MORENO / Staff Photographer
Members of the Avalon String Band perform down Broad street, during the 118th annual Mummers Parade in Philadelphia on Monday, Jan 1, 2018. JOSE F. MORENO / Staff Photographer
South Philadelphia fancy brigade walk down Broad Street, minutes after performing in the 18th annual Mummers Parade in Philadelphia on Monday, Jan 1, 2018. JOSE F. MORENO / Staff Photographer
Members of the Fralinger String Band perform down Broad Street, during the 118th annual Mummers Parade in Philadelphia on Monday, Jan 1, 2018. JOSE F. MORENO / Staff Photographer
The 2nd St. Shooters perform "Sugar N' Spice, But Not So Nice," during the Mummers Fancy Brigade "Family Show" inside the Convention Center January 1, 2018. TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
The 2nd St. Shooters perform "Sugar N' Spice, But Not So Nice," during the Mummers Fancy Brigade "Family Show" inside the Convention Center January 1, 2018. TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
The Shooting Stars perform "Beyond the Stars," inspired by the age-old question: "Are we alone out there?" during the Mummers Fancy Brigade "Family Show" inside the Convention Center January 1, 2018. TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
The Shooting Stars perform "Beyond the Stars," inspired by the age-old question: "Are we alone out there?" during the Mummers Fancy Brigade "Family Show" inside the Convention Center January 1, 2018. TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
The 2nd St. Shooters perform "Sugar N' Spice, But Not So Nice," during the Mummers Fancy Brigade "Family Show" inside the Convention Center January 1, 2018. TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
The Shooting Stars perform "Beyond the Stars," inspired by the age-old question: "Are we alone out there?" during the Mummers Fancy Brigade "Family Show" inside the Convention Center January 1, 2018. TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
Young astronauts are onstage as the Shooting Stars perform "Beyond the Stars," inspired by the age-old question: "Are we alone out there?" during the Mummers Fancy Brigade "Family Show" inside the Convention Center January 1, 2018. TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
Members of the Two Street Stompers dressed as Eagles cheerleaders perform during the 118th annual Mummers Parade in Philadelphia on Monday, Jan 1, 2018. Mummers strutted at the city's annual New Year's Day parade, under frigid cold temperatures. JOSE F. MORENO / Staff Photographer
Nicole Drescher, left, and Roman Pshenitsyn, right, are all bundeld up to see their first Mummers Parade as they braved the cold to watch the Comics strut down Broad Street on January 1, 2018. MICHAEL BRYANT/ Staff Photographer
Cole Lubinsky, 6, presses his face against the school bus window as he and the other small children dressed as wenches for American NYB Comic presentation of The Empire Struts Back at the Mummers Parade, drive down Broad Street to keep warm after they performed in front of the judges at City Hall on January 1, 2018. MICHAEL BRYANT/ Staff Photographer
Jerry Murphy, of the 2 Street Strutters Comic Division, center, decided to strut down Broad Street sans jacket or shirt on one of the coldest Mummers Parade ever on January 1, 2018. MICHAEL BRYANT/ Staff Photographer
Members of the Jesters Band march down during the 118th annual Mummers Parade in Philadelphia on Monday, Jan 1, 2018. Mummers strutted at the city's annual New Year's Day parade, under frigid cold temperatures. JOSE F. MORENO / Staff Photographer
Musicians Wakeem Johnson, left, from Camden New Jersey, and Ryan Stanbury, right, from Washington New Jersey, perform on Broad Street, during a particularly cold Mummers parade in Philadelphia, Monday, Jan. 1, 2018. JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer
Brittany Vaspoli, from Blackwood New Jersey, watches the parade on Broad Street, during a particularly cold Mummers parade, in Philadelphia, Monday, Jan. 1, 2018. JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer
Members of the Two Street Stompers perform during the 118th annual Mummers Parade in Philadelphia on Monday, Jan 1, 2018. Mummers strutted at the city's annual New Year's Day parade, under frigid cold temperatures. JOSE F. MORENO / Staff Photographer
Members of the Jesters Band march down during the 118th annual Mummers Parade in Philadelphia on Monday, Jan 1, 2018. Mummers strutted at the city's annual New Year's Day parade, under frigid cold temperatures. JOSE F. MORENO / Staff Photographer
Members of the Finnegan New Year's Brigade hold political signs as they wait for their turn to perform, during the 118th annual Mummers Parade in Philadelphia on Monday, Jan 1, 2018. Mummers strutted at the city's annual New Year's Day parade, under frigid cold temperatures. JOSE F. MORENO / Staff Photographer
Ken Pooler, left, and Jack Mills, right, in costume outside of the Fralinger clubhouse, along 2 Street, prior to the start of the Mummers Parade, in Philadelphia, Monday, Jan. 1, 2018. JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer
Lisa Ebeling watches the Mummers Parade, in Philadelphia, Monday, Jan. 1, 2018. JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer
People in the stands bundle up during the Mummers Parade, in Philadelphia, Monday, Jan. 1, 2018. JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer
Members of the O'Malley Wench Brigade at the judges stand during the Mummers Parade, in Philadelphia, Monday, Jan. 1, 2018. JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer
The Oregon Wench Brigade performs "It's Getting Chilly in Philly" at the judges stand during the Mummers Parade, in Philadelphia, Monday, Jan. 1, 2018. JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer
The Oregon Wench Brigade performs "It's Getting Chilly in Philly" at the judges stand during the Mummers Parade, in Philadelphia, Monday, Jan. 1, 2018. JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer
Ed Cox Jr. is the Glorious Warrior, at the judges stand during the Mummers Parade, in Philadelphia, Monday, Jan. 1, 2018. JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer
Jim Wallen, 70, helps with last minute adjustments as the Shooting Stars prepare backstage in the Mummers Fancy Brigade show inside the Convention Center January 1, 2018. Their theme, "Beyond the Stars," asks the age-old question: "Are we alone out there?" TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
Bryan Gabriel, left, and Larry Marshall, right, make their way along 2 Street, in preparation for the Mummers Parade, in Philadelphia, Monday, Jan. 1, 2018. JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer
Members of the Merrymakers NYB along 2 Street, in preparation for the Mummers Parade, in Philadelphia, Monday, Jan. 1, 2018. JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer
Father and son Tom, left, and Gavin Gindville, in costume along 2 Street, prior to the start of the Mummers Parade, in Philadelphia, Monday, Jan. 1, 2018. JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer
Matt Basile, from the Fitzwater Wench Brigade carries costumes to the clubhouse along 2 Street, in preparation for the Mummers Parade, in Philadelphia, Monday, Jan. 1, 2018. JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer
Members of Froggy Carr Wench Brigade walk to the clubhouse along 2 Street, in Philadelphia, prior to the start of the Mummers Parade, Monday, Jan. 1, 2018. JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer
Members of Froggy Carr Wench Brigade gather in front of the clubhouse along 2 Street, in preparation for the Mummers Parade, in Philadelphia, Monday, Jan. 1, 2018. JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer
Matt Snyder, left, sits as Erin Kelly, right, applies his makeup at the Froggy Carr Clubhouse along 2 Street, in preparation for the Mummers Parade, in Philadelphia, Monday, Jan. 1, 2018. JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer
Tommy Otis Petronis, a member of Froggy Carr Wench Brigade slips on his golden sneaker in front of the clubhouse along 2 Street, in preparation for the Mummers Parade, in Philadelphia, Monday, Jan. 1, 2018. JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer
Greater Overbrook Captain, Bill Razzano performs down Broad street, during the 118th annual Mummers Parade in Philadelphia on Monday, Jan 1, 2018. JOSE F. MORENO / Staff Photographer
Fire Chief, Charles Herran, left, struts outside his firehouse, Engine 1 - Ladder 5, with a member of the Greater Overbrook String Band, during the 118th annual Mummers Parade in Philadelphia. Monday, Jan 1, 2018. JOSE F. MORENO / Staff Photographer
Members of the Pennsport String Band performs " No Siesta, Mas Fiesta " during the 118th annual Mummers Parade in Philadelphia on Monday, Jan 1, 2018. JOSE F. MORENO / Staff Photographer
Captain of the Pennsport String Band, Charlie Nicholas performs " No Siesta, Mas Fiesta " during the 118th annual Mummers Parade in Philadelphia on Monday, Jan 1, 2018. JOSE F. MORENO / Staff Photographer
Members of the Aqua String Band perform down Broad street, during the 118th annual Mummers Parade in Philadelphia. Monday, Jan 1, 2018. JOSE F. MORENO / Staff Photographer
Members of the Aqua String Band perform down Broad street, during the 118th annual Mummers Parade in Philadelphia. Monday, Jan 1, 2018. JOSE F. MORENO / Staff Photographer
Captain of Quaker City String Band, Jimmy Good performs down Broad Street, during the 118th annual Mummers Parade in Philadelphia on Monday, Jan 1, 2018. JOSE F. MORENO / Staff Photographer
Captain of Quaker City String Band, Jimmy Good performs down Broad Street, during the 118th annual Mummers Parade in Philadelphia on Monday, Jan 1, 2018. JOSE F. MORENO / Staff Photographer
Members of the Quaker City String Band perform down Broad street, during the 118th annual Mummers Parade in Philadelphia on Monday, Jan 1, 2018. JOSE F. MORENO / Staff Photographer
Jake Kudrick, 11, finishes his dance routine as the Captain of Duffy String band, the youngest captain in history of Mummer String Bands, after his father, Teddy Kudrick, passed away this past year. His father had been Captain and it fell to Jake to take his father’s place. MICHAEL BRYANT/ Staff Photographer
Captain Joseph Pomante, right, and some of the dancers for Durning String Band come riding in on a locomotive during their performance of “Gear-resistable” on January 1, 2018 in the Mummers Parade. MICHAEL BRYANT/ Staff Photographer
Dancers from Uptown String Band act as puppeteers as they dance through the performance of “Voodoo Gras” as part of their Mummers Parade presentation on January 1, 2018. MICHAEL BRYANT/ Staff Photographer
Captain Nick Magenta of the Polish American String Band, rides in on his trusty steed to start their performance of “True Friends of the Crown” as part of their presentation in the Mummers Parade on January 1, 2018. MICHAEL BRYANT/ Staff Photographer
Captain Carmen Maniaci Sr. center, dances with other members of the Avalon String Band during their performance of “Figments of Our Fabrication” during the Mummers Parade on January 1, 2018. MICHAEL BRYANT/ Staff Photographer
With confetti flying Captain Denny Palandro of the South Philadelphia String Band closes out their performance of “West in Peace” atop the skelton of a vulture during the Mummers Parade on January 1, 2018. MICHAEL BRYANT/ Staff Photographer
A dancer dressed as Tinkerbell “flies” during the Joseph A. Ferko String Bands presentation of “We’re off to Neverland” in the Mummers Parade on January 1, 2018. MICHAEL BRYANT/ Staff Photographer
Captain Thomas D’Amore of Ferko String Band makes a grand entrance as Captain Hook in their performance of “We’re off to Neverland” during the Mummers Parade on January 1, 2018. MICHAEL BRYANT/ Staff Photographer
Photo Gallery: Mummers march in the bitter cold to ring in 2018

On Jan. 1 in Philadelphia, marchers in the 118th edition of the city-sanctioned parade formed west and north of City Hall on barren streets under blue skies. They stepped off at 9:09 a.m. when given the order.

There were reasons why the parade shouldn’t have gone on Monday — the health of the marchers and the freezing of musical instruments. But there was one important reason why it should — tradition. While rain, snow and high winds postponed several editions of America’s largest spontaneous folk parade, never had one been postponed because of low temperatures.

When weather tested the Mummers’ mettle this year, they strapped on their back pieces, lined their golden slippers with newspaper (see, we are still good for something), picked up hand warmers, and strutted out onto the tundra.

It’s hard to say how many of the expected 10,000 Mummers marchers and musicians developed cold feet and slept in, but the dangerously low temperatures kept many fans away. (Confession: I was not on the street because I am rehabbing from surgery. My coverage comes from TV and my “deputies” on the street.)

The scarcity of on-street fans would continue all day, but that is not to say there were no spectators. Just as the parade started, Sammy the Bull tweeted, “If you think I’m going to the Mummers Parade in sub zero temperatures and risk my immune system, you are absolutely right.”

Members of the Two Street Stompers perform during the 118th annual Mummers Parade.

Parade attendance was down, but “not awful,” in the words of one longtime parade watcher, who noted the morning crowds had gathered on the west side of Broad to catch the rays from the sun. By the time of the string bands, experienced attendees switched to the east side to catch the dying rays of the sun.

Parade director Leo Dignam told me the parade was moving more slowly than usual because of the presence of the warming buses, but that was expected. Despite the cold, there were numerous young children in the parade, mostly with the comics and wenches divisions.

Even before the start of parade, some wench brigades, including the enormous and raucous Froggy Carr, marched north on Broad Street to assembly points near City Hall, a tribute to the traditional northern parade route that was reversed south in 2015, pretty much out of desperation as parade attendance numbers fell. (The parade also was relocated to Market Street a few times as an experiment.)

The reversal of the parade route was the most profound change to the parade since 1998, when the fancy brigades abandoned judging at City Hall and marched into the Convention Center for the first time, where they have thrived.

This year was the second-coldest temperature for a Mummers Parade, following 1918, according to PHL17.

Why did they march? Because of tradition? Because they are Mummers? Because they are crazy?

Maybe all three.

Stu Bykofsky, STAFF COLUMNIST

Read full story: Code Blue Mummers showed true grit | Stu Bykofsky