Mummers Day Parade to kick off New Year, include looks by long-time costumer

Pennsylvania

Members of the Aqua String Band perform during the 116th annual Mummers Parade in Philadelphia on Friday, Jan. 1, 2016. Outrageously costumed Mummers strutted their stuff Friday at the city’s annual New Year’s Day parade, a colorful celebration that features string bands, comic brigades, elaborate floats and plenty of feathers and sequins. (AP Photo/Joseph Kaczmarek)

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (WHTM) — The Mummers Parade has been a Philadelphia New Year’s tradition since the city first sponsored the event in 1901. The long-time event also includes looks by a long-time costume maker.

James May of James May Costume Company has been making Mummers costumes for more than five decades. “It’s something that gets in your blood. It doesn’t feel like New Year’s, it doesn’t feel like a holiday unless you have a little bit of mummery,” May said.

He used to make an average of 1,200 suits per year, but he says that might be a little much to take on now. May will be 80 years old in February, and he technically retired three years ago.

“There used to be eight different styles per group, eight different sizes, all different colors…I don’t think I can handle it today,” May said. This year, May scaled back his work to 30 suits and two captain suits.

“I wish I was younger because there’s not really that many costumers that are doing this field,” May said.

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The 2021 parade was canceled, but it is returning for 2022. “Last year was a little bleak, but this year they’re coming back strong. They’re excited. They’re building beautiful costumes. It’s going to be a beautiful parade,” May said.

The 2022 parade has been postponed to Sunday, Jan. 2, due to weather. The indoor Fancy Brigade show will still occur at its regularly scheduled time on Jan. 1.

To watch the Mummers Parade live on abc27 sister station PHL17, click here. The Mummers Parade begins at 9 a.m. on Jan. 2. The Mummers Fancy Brigade show will stream at 8 p.m. on Jan. 1.

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