In honor of President’s Day, I found some fun facts about the Philadelphia Mummers and American Presidents.
Mummers Magazine 1950’s
George Washington, following his inauguration, began the official custom of New Year’s Day calls and continued it during the seven years he occupied the presidential mansion in Philadelphia, then the capital. The mummers continued to celebrate annually in their traditional way. Reciting doggerel and receiving in return cakes and ale, groups of five to twenty, would march from home to home, shooting and shouting, doing friendly impersonations of General Washington and burlesquing the fashionable English mummers’ play of St. George and the Dragon.
A character that always accompanied their “Washington” was Cooney Cracker, a clown whose costumes and antics make some historians believe he was the forerunner of the Uncle Sam of today. This shooter impersonating Washington had several poems and speeches to recite, which still survive.
- In 1961, the Hegeman String Band played for John F. Kennedy’s Presidential Inauguration in Washington DC
- The the Avalon String Band, which selected a theme called “Red, White, Rhythm and Blue” for the 1993 Mummers Parade, strutted those colors to honor Bill Clinton’s inauguration on Jan. 20, 1993 in Washington D.C.