I grew up in the Philadelphia area, where our New Year’s Day tradition was watching the Mummers parade*. Every year, my family and I watched this spectacle either in person or on TV. When I got married on January 1, 2001 (before smartphones), I made sure that the limo that would take us from the ceremony to the reception had a TV tuned to the parade. This was as important to me as throwing the bouquet or cutting the wedding cake. And even though we moved away from Philadelphia 20 years ago, we have watched the parade every year no matter where we were on New Year’s Day. Until this year.
Like so many other events, the Mummers parade was cancelled this year because there is just no way to do it socially distanced. Unlike the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, the crowds of onlookers and revelers are an integral part of the fun. They dance down Broad Street and pack the sidewalks, shoulder to shoulder, trying to catch a glimpse of the parade antics. People shout, sing, and often drink alcohol and lead cheers for the Philadelphia Eagles. It would have undoubtedly been a super spreader event, so the mayor of Philadelphia — a former Mummer himself — cancelled it.
Predictably, there were protests, and a few people marched in the streets anyway, wearing the costumes they had planned to wear in the parade. As disappointed as I was to not have the parade to watch, those who were planning to march in the parade were even more upset. Many Philadelphians have marched in the parade as long as they can remember, as did their parents and grandparents.
Traditions are hard to give up, especially those that have brought so much joy, but traditions never last forever. Things change, families make new traditions, and sometimes the new traditions are even better than the old ones. Instead of watching the parade, we ended up watching a new musical, “Ratatouille”, via an online streaming service and having a Champagne toast. These may become our new traditions, in fact, I bet that we have missed out on a lot of cool New Year’s day events over the years.
I decided that one of my resolutions this year is to be more flexible, both physically and mentally. What are your resolutions this year? Is there something great that you may have been missing out on because you “have always done things a certain way”?
* The Mummer’s parade is a Philadelphia tradition dating back to the 1700s, and there is no good way to describe it (and the highlights clips on YouTube do not do it justice) other than to say that it’s an annual celebration in the streets of Philadelphia.