Coming together the only way they know how

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“We had almost everything done at that point,” said Katie Foley-Anastasia, a drummer in Duffy. “We had to mourn and then we had to fix everything to make the show.”

Jake Kudrick

This past New Year’s Day, the Philadelphia Mummers Parade welcomed its youngest captain in history: 11-year-old Jake Kudrick.

For the past three generations, the captain of Duffy String Band always passed down the captainship to his son. Thus, it was always the plan for Ted Kudrick, who had captained the band since 1985, to one day pass down the role to his son Jake, who recently just turned 12 on Jan. 23. Tragically, that moment came far sooner than anyone in the band would’ve liked.

On Oct. 19, at which point the plan for the 2018 parade was mostly put into place, Ted died from a heart attack at age 52.

“We had almost everything done at that point,” said Katie Foley-Anastasia, a drummer in Duffy. “We had to mourn and then we had to fix everything to make the show.”

At first, there was brief uncertainty about what to do.

“We’re out there competing and we’re out there to win,” said Colleen Kudrick, Jake’s mom and Ted’s wife. “If somebody came and said ‘is counting on an 11-year-old really the way we want to go?’ I certainly would have understood it, but everyone was in his corner. Everyone was behind him, and he really fed off of that.

So that was it. Jake was captain.

“He was a professional,” said Bill Rhoda, who plays the baritone saxophone in Duffy. “He jumped into an amazing professional role. He set aside his own personal feelings and he said alright this is for everyone who’s around me and he went into it 100 percent.”

The title of Duffy’s 2018 parade theme was “Wiz Wit,” which largely centered around the Wizard of Oz. Initially, Jake was meant to be the Mayor of Munchkinland, but later took on his father’s role as Professor Marvel during the parade upon his dad’s passing.

“He went out there with a lot of confidence on New Year’s Day,” said Colleen.

“He’s an amazing little kid,” Foley-Anastasia said. “He really is.”

When the parade was over, Duffy finished ninth in the string band results, which was the band’s highest finish in more than 50 years, according to Colleen Kudrick. In the string band captain’s results, Jake finished in a tie for fourth place. But Jake’s more proud of the entire band’s performance.

“I think the band played amazing,” he said.

“As you saw with him coming in fourth place against a bunch of adults, he’s a heck of a dancer, he’s a heck of a performer,” said Colleen. “He’s out there with a smile on his face, and he really lifted all of us up behind him. It was very inspirational that he was going to get out there under the circumstances with his father passing away only two months before.”

Right now, Jake is understandably a bit too young for many of the complexities that come with being a Mummers string band captain. But the plan is to have him grow into the role.

“A lot of the captains have a lot of greater behind-the-scenes responsibility that he’s a little young for right now,” said his mom, “but we’ll give them to him in time.”