For 73 years the Mummers’ Parade has delighted revelers each autumn, and at least 98 participating groups are lined up to make a memorable 74th. As always, spectators can expect a diverse array of performances throughout the event including bands, cheer squads, floats, and more.
The parade begins Saturday, Oct. 19 at 2 p.m., on Central Avenue. In the event of a major downpour the parade will take place on Sunday.
A parade so close to Halloween is, of course, known for its variety of costumes: it isn’t unusual to see a gaggle of giant frogs hopping down the street, clowns who double as tattoo artists, goblins riding tiny tricycles, and other fantastical beings. This year the parade is commemorating the 80th anniversary of the legendary film adaptation of The Wizard of Oz, so scarecrows and zombies may have to compete to acquire brains.
What is a Mummer, anyway?
While the South Williamsport Mummers’ Parade has been around since 1945 – or 1928, depending on who you ask – mummers have existed since ancient times, possibly originating in Greece or Egypt. These masked actors paraded through the streets performing poems, songs, skits, pantomimes. During the medieval period in Europe, mummery often involved poor performers entering random strangers’ homes and begging for food and drink after their shows.
Recent iterations of mummery have removed the home invasion and begging aspects, but the South Williamsport Mummers gladly accept donations through their website in lieu of those.
The group also has a Facebook page that features video clips, a list of participants, an abundance of photos, and regular updates.