Sixth annual Mummers Mardi Gras moves to South Philadelphia

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Mummers Mardi Gras moves to South Philadelphia

The Manayunk extravaganza is heading to Mummer territory.

On Tuesday, 2300 Arena hosted a press conference announcing the Mummers Mardi Gras event’s relocation from Manayunk to South Philadelphia. (Above: Woodland String Band Members, ADVENT Consulting President Joe DeCandido, Congressman Bob Brady, Philadelphia String Band Association president John Pignotti and event coordinator Ray Sheehan. (GRACE MAIORANO/South Philly Review)

After five years of serenading Manayunk’s Main Street, the Mummers Mardi Gras celebration is strutting down to Swanson Street.

For the first time since its inception in 2012, the annual event, which fuses Philly tradition with Fat Tuesday festivities, will be hosted in South Philadelphia on Saturday, Feb. 23, at 2300 Arena, 2300 S. Swanson St.

Following the Manayunk Development Corporation’s decision to end the yearly jamboree, ADVENT Consulting, the creator and promoter of the Mummers Mardi Gras, decided to move the spectacle to the birthplace of mummery.

“We certainly appreciated the time that we spent in Manayunk,” said Joe DeCandido, president of ADVENT Consulting, during a news conference at 2300 Arena announcing the transition. “We had some great traditions there, but we did look to move this event down to South Philadelphia to really bring it back to its roots.”

In light of cuts from the city’s budget in recent years, Mummers Mardi Gras was originally conceived to benefit the Philadelphia Mummers String Band Association. The effort has overall raised more than $100,000.

Running from 1 to 5 p.m., this year’s bash, which will be held both indoors and outdoors, offers a breadth of mummery activities.

“Putting this event together, mummery is just an incredibly unique tradition in Philadelphia,” DeCandido said. “The pageantry — it’s like no other, so the thought to pair it with Mardi Gras felt like we could build the biggest East Coast Mardi Gras celebration, and I was happy to have it here in Philadelphia.”

Aside from performances from all 16 string bands comprising the Philadelphia Mummers String Band Association, the afternoon will feature food trucks, face painting, make-your-own umbrellas, an open-air photo booth with Mummers costumes and a silent auction benefiting the association.

While the Manayunk celebration was more so a performance, this resurrected version, which hopes to see close to 6,000 people, intends to be more interactive for spectators.

“It’s an opportunity for the consumer to get really intimate with the Mummers,” said event organizer Ray Sheehan. “The Mummers will be here performing. You’ll be able to meet them, hear their story. So, one thing this event will really create is a real intimate experience with the Mummers.”

During the news conference, former congressman Bob Brady presented a check to the Philadelphia Mummers String Band Association that will help support the Feb. 23 festival.

Brady says relocating Mummers Mardi Gras to South Philadelphia will jumpstart the “show of shows.”

“When we start losing our tradition, we start losing our identity in the city of Philadelphia,” Brady said. “We’ve got great traditions.”

The Mummers Mardi Gras will be a ticketed event. General admission costs $10, with access to the event starting at 1 p.m. VIP tickets are also available and cost $25. This exclusive offer includes early entrance at noon, limited seating area near the stage, a goodie bag, a bag of Herr’s Potato Chips, a drink ticket and more.

While tickets may be available at 2300 Arena on the day of the event, organizers encourage purchasing tickets in advance. Tickets can be purchased at www.mummersmardigras.com.

“This is exactly what we’re trying to do to turn it back into the show of shows,” said Philadelphia String Band Association president John Pignotti. “…Joe (DeCandido), on behalf of the Philadelphia Mummers String Band Association, Congressman Brady, once again, thank you for thinking of the string bands, and we’ll see you all the 23rd.”

Twitter: @gracemaiorano.

gmaiorano@newspapermediagroup.com