Every New Year's Day since 1901, the Philadelphia Mummers have presented a spectacular show of shows that raucously snakes and shimmies its way through city streets. The Mummers Parade features music, dance, comedy, and mime, along with dazzling costumes and floats. Although the lavish event is now televised to a wide audience, it is still rooted in the same neighborhoods where it began.
This book explores the community created and annually reaffirmed by the Philadelphia Mummers. The author spent more than five years with the Mummers, observing their lives and rituals as she took part in their preparations and parades. Writing with the fascination of a sociologist and the excitement of a participant, Masters examines the Mummers from their beginnings. Through the prism of their century-long history, we can see how communities retain their identities and how they are affected by larger cultural trends.