‘I Want to be a New Year’s Mummer’

By Freddi Carlip

 A From Freddi column from 2008.

It combines two of my loves: Running and Mummery. My dream, as expressed in The title, became reality on June 29, 2019 as I marched and strutted with the Fralinger String Band in the Lewisburg Veterans 4th of July Parade. It’s because of running that I had no problem wearing a very heavy Mummers suit in the heat and humidity, nor did I have a problem going the parade route marching, strutting, and feeling absolutely wonderful.

Bravo to my hometown and all that makes it the best place to be!

And I do…a dream that I hope will happen. After all, I played basketball vs. the Eagles, so it could happen, right? In the meantime, I’ll do my Philly thing at the Blue Cross Broad Street Run. The title above is a real song, on a 45, by a real string band–Polish American–and they are the featured string band on the Street–Broad St.–at the finish of this quintessential Philly race. Did I strut to the sounds? Do you need to ask?

The expo, at Lincoln Financial Field, featured SWOOP and the Eagles Pep Band. I didn’t catch a glimpse of them, but just being at LFF had me soaring. It was fun walking through the expo and catching up with Race Director Jim Marino and his First Lt, Peggy Jastrzemski. They had gone the extra mile for me and I was ecstatic. And they were ecstatic about the entry numbers–record-breaking.

I was home and it felt great. Matt and I stayed at the Holiday Inn near LFF and Citizens Bank Park. The hotel featured Benny the Bum’s restaurant. More on that later. We had a nosh at a wonderful Italian restaurant, Medora’s Mecca, on Packer Ave. and then took the Broad Street Subway to Center City to meet friends Steve Reynolds and Emily Lawrence, of Fans Helping Fans; both are rabid Iggles fans. I have so many memories of riding the Broad St. Subway as part of my trip to Temple University as a “subway student.”  As I said, I was home.

We went to dinner in Chinatown after we gave Matt a tour. We had Vietnamese food; not a typical pre-race meal, but it was so good. Matt was running the next day. I’d be strutting at the finish.

When Matt and I got back to the Holiday Inn, Benny the Bum’s was rockin’. Every Saturday night, oldies station WOGL hosts a dance party, live, on the air, with DJ Bob Pantano. We heard “Disco Inferno” and headed in. We danced, we had fun, and didn’t want to leave, but Matt had to be at the subway early to get to the race start.

Race-day morning, I had a lovely walk to the finish at the Navy Yard. It was windy and chilly, but it was a tail wind and I knew the runners would have that tail wind all the way down the Street. I overhead someone say that it was warmer for the Mummers Parade in January than the Broad St. Run in May. Go figure.

I was smiling as I walked, taking it all in. South Philly, Broad St., the sports complex, the Navy Yard. And the smile got bigger as I met up with RG senior writer Jerry Nolan and we watched the Polish American String Band set up. Then I caught a glimpse of the Philly Phanatic and began to cheer my favorite baseball team and their mascot. He was meeting and greeting all the kids who were part of the fun runs. They loved it. So did I.

And, all of a sudden, a woman was calling my name. I couldn’t believe I was seeing someone from Lewisburg. It was Sue Gerlinski with her granddaughter. Sue’s daughter, Aimee Baylor, was running and they were there to cheer her on. Aimee did extremely well, finishing as eighth woman overall. Yea Aimee! And then the overall winner was approaching. I watched RG’s top-notch photographers Clay Shaw and Karen Mitchell hop off the press truck and scamper to the finish to capture the moment.

It was a thrill to listen to the cheers, the announcer, and the P-A String Band, and watch as the finishers crossed the line. When I heard the name “Fielding Melish” announced, I did a double take–was the actual Woody Allen character running Broad Street?

What other race features the governor (thanks Guv Ed) at six miles cheering on the runners? What other race features soft pretzels and other Philly “phood” for the finishers?

The Broad St. Run is pure Philly. From North Broad to South, the sights, the sounds of Philly are on every corner, on every block and continue, postrace.

The Penrose Diner beckoned after Matt got cleaned up. No better way to continue the Philly experience than at the Penrose. Breakfast served by waitresses that can carry ten plates, memorize your order while talking to someone in the next booth, and make you feel like you’re the only one in the diner, Hon. What next? A trip to South St. (“where all the hippies meet”) and rummaging through box after box of vinyl at multiple record (yes, record) stores. With vinyl purchases bagged up, we were ready to go. Matt needed a South Street tour and we saw it all, stopping at Starbucks for a mocha and finishing our grand tour with a stop at Famous 4th St. I got cookies and knishes and I was in Jewish-food heaven.

Did I want to leave my hometown? The real world was waiting and we had to head back. The Broad St. Run is the Mummers Parade, an Iggles game, a “dash” down Philly’s ultimate street, with Billy Penn and Ed Rendell ready to greet the runners. I’m not a New Year’s Mummer yet, but this Philly Girl is proud to be part of another Philly tradition—the Broad Street Run.

The fabulous Fralinger String Band at the beginning of the Lewisburg Parade on June 29, 2019. There’s a familiar face in yellow and red.

Categories: From Freddi

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