Wednesday, January 1, 2014

1961 postcard: Joseph A. Ferko String Band in Mummers Parade

This unused 1961 postcard, produced by Raum Printing, features a 1961 photo of the Joseph A. Ferko String Band, one of the participants in the storied New Year's Day Mummers Parade in Philadelphia.

The 2014 installment of the event begins at 10 a.m. today on Broad Street.

According to, "mummery traces its roots to ancient Roman laborers who ushered in the festival of Saturnalia by marching in masks while exchanging gifts and satirizing the issues of the day. In the 1600s, Swedish settlers to Philadelphia’s outskirts honored Christmas by beseeching their neighbors for dessert and liquor by dressing up, chanting and shooting firearms. The party eventually migrated to New Year’s Day and evolved into a series of neighborhood parades."

The first official (and judged) Mummers Parade was held on January 1, 1901.

Today's event, which will feature about 10,000 participants, includes five divisions — Comics, Wench Brigades, Fancies, String Bands and Fancy Brigades.

The Joseph A. Ferko String Band is the oldest continuous participant in the Mummers Parade, has performed in the parade every year since 1923, and is the most successful participant in the event's history. Here are some interesting tidbits about the string band, culled from the band's official website and its Wikipedia page:
  • Founder Joseph A. Ferko was the band's captain from 1922 through 1964. (The current captain is Anthony Celenza.)
  • The band played for Franklin D. Roosevelt's 1933 inauguration.
  • The band can be seen briefly in Miracle on 34th Street.
  • In the summer of 1955, the band charted in the Billboard Top 100. (Its recording of Alabama Jubilee sold more than one million records.)
  • The band performed in Cuba in 1959.
  • The band's 1961 Mummers performance, pictured on the postcard, was titled "The Blue and The Gray." You can hear an archived recording of the performance on Ferko placed second that year.

No comments:

Post a Comment