Fancy Brigade mummers rehearse for indoor shows

John McDevitt
December 26, 2019 - 5:11 pm
Mummers Fancy Brigade Finale 2020

John McDevitt/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Preparations are underway for the Mummers Fancy Brigade Finale indoor shows on New Year’s Day. Members of the 12 clubs are already hard at work at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

The clubs must follow several rules ahead of the indoor shows — namely, props, sets and lighting have to be trucked into the Convention Center before Friday night. After that, the garage doors will close, and remaining pieces and last-minute items will have to be carried in through a smaller door.

“It's a lot of practice. It's a lot of preparing,” said AJ Knights, who performs with the Magic Brigade and builds sets. “It's worth it, it's definitely worth it. It's a lot of fun and it brings everyone together. I didn't know any of these people; now, they are a part of my family.”

The clubs will perform Broadway-style productions on Jan. 1. Tom Knight, the new president of the Fancy Brigade Association, said the 4 ½-minute performances are extravagant.

“The imagination of all 12 clubs are unbelievable, and how they come up with all of the ideas in different ways to do things every year is unbelievable,” said Knight, who also performs in the South Philly Vikings Brigade — 2019's first-place winner.

Sal Rota, 21, has been a mummer all his life. He’ll stage a “calm before the storm”-themed performance with the Magic Brigade. 

“This is the hectic part: We are building a stage right now, 40 feet long, 10 feet wide. And then we have to go 2 feet up, make a bunch of props — you know how it goes,” he said. “It’s crazy over here.”

Mummers Fancy Brigade Finale 2020
John McDevitt/KYW Newsradio

Mummers Fancy Brigade Finale 2020
John McDevitt/KYW Newsradio

Mummers Fancy Brigade Finale 2020
John McDevitt/KYW Newsradio

Mummers Fancy Brigade Finale 2020
John McDevitt/KYW Newsradio

The indoor shows started more than 20 years ago, when the city's tourism gurus were determined to guarantee a mummers experience for all, despite factors like the weather.

Tickets are still available for both the 11:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. shows.