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I have some shocking Mummers news to report tonight. Multiple sources close to the situation have confirmed to me that The Original Trilby String Band will not be marching in the 2015 Mummers Parade. At this time, I do not have the specific reasons why the band has decided to drop out of the 2015 Mummers Parade this close to New Years Day. What I do know is that The Original Trilby String Band is not disbanding and is hoping to make a triumphant return to the Mummers Parade in 2016. I’ll update this blog with more information about the situation as it becomes available.

The Original Trilby String Band release a statement on December 6, 2014:

To our brothers and sisters of mummery ,

It is with a heavy heart that we are announcing that, due to many circumstances, The Original Trilby Stringband will not be parading in the 2015 New Years Day Parade. With that being said, Trilby Stringband will not be closing our doors. We will continue to participate in parades and events to build up for the parade the following year. We would like to thank everyone for all of your continuing support during this time! Look out for us in 2016!

The 2015 Mummers Parade will be the first time since 1947 that Original Trilby String Band will not perform in the Mummers Parade. In the past, the Original Trilby String Band did not march in the Mummers Parade in 1935, 1936 and from 1941-1947.  Trilby is one of six bands that marched in 2014 that have never won first prize. The highest prize they received was 2nd place in 1952 with their theme “Blue Champagne”.

Trilby’s 2014 theme was “All for Mum and Mum for All”. Captain Joe Kaminski led the string band as it performed such classics as “Four Leaf Clover”, and “When You’re Smiling”. Trilby marched in the 7th position and came in last place (17th) in 2014. Trilby was expected to perform an Old Time Religion theme in the 2015 Mummers Parade and was scheduled to march in the 5th position.

Oldest String Band?
Every year during the Mummers Parade, the PHL17 TV hosts like to refer to the Trilby String Band as the oldest string band still performing in the Mummer’s Parade. What  most fans fail to realize is that there were two “Trilbys”, The Original Trilby String Band (organized in 1935 and still in existence today) seems to be confused with the Trilby String Band (organized 1898 and last marched in 1924).

According to the String Band Record

These are two separate organizations: The Trilby String Band marched on and off from 1902 until 1920. One of the original founders of the Trilby String Band, a gentleman named Louis Samuels owned the Trilby charter, and after a number of dismal prizes, broke up the band in 1920. In 1923, former band members Dave Nelson and John Wygand asked Louis to bring the band out once again for the 1924 parade, to which Louis reluctantly agreed. The end result for Trilby in the 1924 parade was a last-place honorable mention (along with the Franklin String Band), a fifty-dollar prize, and a vow from Louis Samuels that the Trilby String Band was cursed, and would never march again.

The Trilby String Band disbanded for good after the 1924 parade. Eleven years later, in 1935, three musicians, Dave Nelson, Johnny Dryer and George Boettger wanted to organize their own string band. They were thinking up
names for their new band, and Dave Nelson suggested calling it “Trilby”, after the band that he marched in over a decade ago. They decided to do just that, even going as far as having badges made up with “Trilby String Band 1936” stamped on them. What they didn’t realize was that Louis Samuels, one of the founders of Trilby was still around, and still owned the Trilby String Band charter. Samuels threatened the new bandsmen with a lawsuit if they didn’t call their new band something else.

Not knowing what to do now, with already having their “Butterflys” theme ready to go for the 1936 Mummers’ Parade, and last-minute touches finished, they decided to name their new string band the “Original Trilby String Band”. With that, they registered their new band under that name in Harrisburg, and had a rubber stamp made up with the word “ORIGINAL”. They then proceeded to change all of their new “Trilby String Band-1936 parade badges into “ORIGINAL Trilby String Band-1936” parade badges. (One of which exists to this day in the Mummers’ Museum). Louis Samuels was now quiet about the new band, and the brand new Original Trilby String Band marched for the first time on January 1, 1936, and finished sixth with a butterfly theme. This is the band that continues to march today.