January 1, 2011 marked my third year of covering the Mummers Parade for WPHL. The month that leads up to that parade is the busiest month of the year for my department at the station. While the rest of the world is in holiday mode of half days and office parties, we are working overtime and weekends. On New Year’s Eve I am sound asleep before midnight in order to be at the parade bright and early. That’s me, Tony Romeo, in the above photo, (black shirt to the right), walking the parade route (15th and Market).
That said? I still had a pretty OK time! I mean yes, LONG DAY, physically and mentally, and watching other people party all day wears on you, but after three years you just reconcile the years off the end of your life such days take and have fun with it. And I did have fun this year.
I love the city early on Parade Day. The absence of cars brings out the architecture of Center City and it’s really neat to have all an all access pass to the parade route. (Again, see above photo.). I shoot the first part of the parade and then usually duck into one of the production vehicles as it gets close to night to edit and work on other non-photo stuff. But the gray buildings with the colorful mummers in front of them make for some of my favorite Mummers photos. (below)
A thing about 2011 I really enjoyed was the crowd. In Mummers past they can be surly, but warm temperatures made for a love fest. At one point some people in the crowd asked me to pick something up for them. (A little girl in the crowd wanted some beads that had fallen to the ground on my side of the parade route barricades.) They got my attention by yelling “YO PHOTOGRAPHER” about a dozen times. Crowd interaction at events that include drinking can be a slippery slope so I try and ignore the crowd by acting like I don’t hear… but, the little girl was so cute and the crowd was so persistent, on this one I obliged. The crowd gave a big cheer when I gave the beads to one of her parents. (Do gooder or not, I could not give them DIRECTLY to the child as I had picked them up off a soaked and disgusting Broad Street and did not want to personally be the one that placed that filth onto a small child!) At the end of the cheer one of those that originally got my attention asked my name. Again, this type of interaction is not the usual for me as you just try and stay in your own head and do the job you are there to do, but for some reason I simply said, “Tony.”
At that point, the crowd started a “TO-NY TO-NY TO-NY” chant that lasted for about 5 minutes and repeated every time I walked by the rest of the day. (Pictured left.) It’s a long parade, the crowds like to occupy themselves with chants. Speaking of crowds I took the speedline into the parade and met some parade goers on the train. Jokingly I said I would take their picture at the parade… sure enough, several hours later, there they were. (Pictured Right). Nice people! Pretty much the story of the parade…nice people.
Professionally speaking, myphl17.com had its biggest day ever in Mummers web history. We shot fast, published fast, (so fast I am not even sure which photos are mine!) and got great traffic all week. My cronies in Creative Services (John Clements, Travis Brower, William Lehan and Sublima Cerase) all helped a ton, as did our Creative Services part-timers for the day Dave Speace, Ryan Wismer, Angela Wooten, Eric Everwine and Jim Sullivan. Liz Naugton who produces the parade was awesome as usual giving us great space to work and Steve Highsmith, voice of the Mummers, gave the web so many plugs this year that I was getting texts from family and friends saying how awesome that was of him.
Again… nice people.