RADNOR, Pa. (Sept. 3, 2010) — South Philadelphia natives Kerri Dougherty and Gianna Shikitino can’t imagine Philadelphia without the Mummers—not only are the two Cabrini College students lifelong fans, but they have family that march with the Fancy Brigades and the Comics, respectively. So when the students heard how City budget cuts have threatened the Mummers Parade, they took action.
Along with classmate and Upper Darby native Joe Cahill, Dougherty and Shikitino produced a 25-minute audio documentary, “Behind the Strut: A Look inside the World of the Philadelphia Mummers,” which has been named a finalist in the Best Feature category of the 2010 College Broadcasters, Inc. National Student Production Awards. The documentary is available at www.wybf.podbean.com.
The trio of communication seniors gained insider access to closed-door practices, rehearsals, and activities surrounding the Mummers New Year’s Day Parade, which officially began in Philadelphia in 1901.
Interviews shed light on why members of each division—Comics, Fancies, String Bands, Fancy Brigades and Wench Brigades—work tirelessly throughout the year raising money, developing intricate choreography routines, and designing glittering and ornate costumes for the opportunity to twirl down Broad Street on Jan. 1, entertaining thousands in the process.
Cahill, Dougherty and Shikitino spent a year working on the documentary.
“We were right in the middle of everything,” said Cahill. “We got behind-the-scenes footage and audio as the brigades performed their routines in the Convention Center. We hope to one day edit it into a mini video documentary for the Mummers Association.”
The students want “Behind the Strut” to bring more awareness to the importance of the Mummers to the city, which they argue would suffer without the annual parade.
“The Mummers truly capture Philadelphia culture,” said Dougherty, whose uncle, Brian Dougherty, helped found the Saints NYB Comic Wench Brigade in 2007 (Dougherty also has 14 family members in the Downtowner’s Fancy Brigade, while Shikitino’s uncle, Willy Adams, marches with the Jesters in the Comic Club).
“We wanted to show our audience how important this tradition and culture is and that without financial help,” said Dougherty, “the parade that brings joy to thousands could be terminated.”
The students are staff members of the College’s radio station, 89.1 WYBF-FM, and used the station’s resources to produce the documentary. This is the fourth WYBF project named a finalist at the National Student Production Awards. Other finalists in the category this year include student projects from the University of Minnesota, Ithaca College, and the University of California, Berkeley. The winner will be announced Oct. 29 at the National Student Media Conference in Louisville, Ky.