More important, however, is the new marketing-friendly mentality prevailing among the Mummers' divisions of fancy brigades, comics and string bands, said Lou Antosh, a Mummers marketing committee member.
. "We really have our act together as an organization," Antosh
said."We're much more marketing- and PR-oriented.It's a whole new generation of Mummers."
While strides have been made in recent years to increase the level of professionalism in the music and the look of the spectacular costumes, marketing the Mummers
-- both locally and nationally -- has taken a back seat."We haven't always sold our product the way we could have," Antosh
Which is what it's about the rest of the year, according to Antosh
, who noted the Mummers
are a hit in all kinds of other events, from local celebrations like the Summer Mummers to gigs the associations are hired for in Florida, California and Boston."The response to what we do is phenomenal," Antosh
said."There's a lot of enthusiasm."
[Indian Mummer]Still, Antosh
said, it took him and his cohorts by surprise when city tourism executives such as Levitz approached them this year about becoming more a symbol of the Philadelphia holidays.
"In towns like New Orleans, they always seem to manage to promote their `crews' down there," Antosh
said."And they've managed to promote the home-grown aspect of Mardis Gras."Well, certainly we have a home-grown parade right here," Antosh
The Mummers tradition has its origins hundreds of years ago, when Swedish settlers began to shoot off guns and dress in costumes to celebrate the New Year.The holiday became well known for its spectacle, and the celebration came under city control and was officially sanctioned Jan. 1, 1901.
That it took 100 years for a focused marketing effort to get under way is testament to the Mummers' original freelance nature and competitive ways."We weren't even sure we were all together," Antosh
said."We were very competitive and nobody really had a good, easy phone number to call to get things together.The marketing committee kind of put a face and phone number on the Mummers
The underlying premise of forming the marketing committee was that the Mummers
had a product worth supporting and that, "without changes, it might not survive," Antosh
However, "while we're steeped in tradition," Antosh
added, "we realize now that at some time, tradition had to change to move forward.And, I think you're going to see a lot of changes in the next few years."
[Downtown Mummer 1]With tourism an increased focus of Philadelphia agencies such as the Philadelphia Convention
and Visitors Bureau
and Levitz's Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corp.
sees the city as finally getting its act together, "to really promote its assets."