Behind the mask of mummers: 'It's more than a hobby with us; it's a way of life'

John McDevitt
December 27, 2018 - 5:36 pm
Preparations are underway for a Philadelphia New Year's Day tradition, where the Mummers parade will step off for the 119th year. KYW Newsradio spoke with a South Philadelphia man who has been a Mummer for more than six decades

John McDevitt/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Preparations are underway for the Mummers Parade, a Philadelphia New Year's Day tradition, which will step off for the 119th year.

There is always something that needs to be tweaked for the parade, and mummers are getting very little rest this week, like South Philadelphia's Rich Porco.

"Add some sequins, add some glitter, add some feathers," said 73-year-old Porco, who has been a mummer for more than six decades.

RELATED: Mummers prep for parades with props and performances at Convention Center​

Porco is president of both the Murray Comic Club and the Mummers Comic Division, and he noted how changes have been made over time.  

"There are more people watching the parade now that we have shortened it and come south," he said. 

He said sometimes a mummer is misunderstood, as they are more than parade performers. It's all about family, friendship and being charitable throughout the year.

"For soldiers, we send all yearlong care packages. We once received, about three years ago, a flag that flew over a camp in Iraq as a thank you from that division. I get emotional," he said. 

Porco added that ever since the city pulled prize money in 2009, members need to do more fundraising to wow the crowd on performance day. 

"It's more than a hobby with us; it's a way of life. I am so happy I became a mummer because of the friends I made," Porco said.