Mummers could have a reality parade

June 17, 2004|by TIM ROWLAND

What, the Mummers' was about to succumbers? Say it ain't so. Without the Mummers', what is Hagerstown, except just another mid-sized city with no largest nighttime parade in October on the East Coast?

Pretty grim. Fortunately, members of the sponsoring Alsatia Club say they will cowboy up and give it another stab, even though the parade is in financial distress and club membership is dwindling.

The parade was founded in 1921, as a way to keep kids out of trouble during the Halloween season, and grew magnificently through the decades. But interest has fallen off of late, to the point that - at the rate it is going - in a few years the grand marshal is going to be the nighttime assistant manager at the downtown Sheetz.

There are going to have to be some cutbacks, most notably the cessation of cash prizes for winning parade entries. That hurts. Does this mean that band from Pippa Passes, Ky., isn't going to be inspired to show up this year?


Whatever they do, I hope they don't lose the County Commuter bus with the six riders on it - notable for being the most passengers ever spotted on a form of Washington County public transportation vehicle that wasn't headed for a middle school. I like that bus, because I always wonder if it's the regular Long Meadow Shopping Center to Halfway run that somehow made a wrong turn and got stuck behind a fire truck from Stephens City.

Alsatia members are looking for help and suggestions to restore luster to the parade, and happily they have come to the right place, since as you know, I am always brimming with ideas. To start:

  • There's nothing wrong with the bands they have now, but I think they might wish to add a couple more, specifically, Smashing Pumpkins and Aerosmith. Or in keeping with the season they could get the Eagles doing "Witchy Woman" or the Police doing "Ghost in the Machine."

  • Since it's in October, they could take a page out of the presidential elections and prepare an "October Surprise" along the lines of an "Osama bin Laden in Chrysanthemums and Chains" float.

  • Fire companies could hose the most annoying-looking person on each block with a water cannon.

  • Minimum float speed, 93 mph.

  • Modify the fire trucks into BattleBots, and have them fight their way down the parade route.

  • The Washington County Commissioner John C. Munson Lifetime Achievement Float, with the commissioner personally brickbatting a Gary Rohrer piata.

  • Instead of going in circles in miniature go-carts, the Shriners get Hummers.

  • Start half the marching bands at one end of the parade route and half at the other so they go in opposite directions.

  • Free Twinkies. Or, better still, have all the floats made by Dairy Queen.

  • Politicians are still allowed in the Mummers' provided they cross-dress.

  • All teenagers who "stay out of trouble" by attending the Mummers' are given a coupon good for a free window-smashing at an abandoned warehouse at some later date.

  • Force all those Paramount people to enter a "Mile Long Yard Sale Float," which instead of flowers would be decorated in sweat-stained underwear.

  • Bring back "Team Generic" and its Deliverance float.

  • Glom onto the reality TV craze by making the Mums a Reality Parade, in which two average housewives stand atop a float arguing over who has the ugliest yard ornaments. Or better yet, talk CBS into staging "Survivor-Mummers" in which the winner must be forced to eat cheese fries.

  • Where are the re-enactors when we need them? All right, all right, I know that, technically, the Mummers' is not historic to the period of the Civil War, but it only missed by 56 years. Where's a little artistic license, perhaps superimposing the Civil War over World War I as they march down the street? I don't see anything too terrible with re-enacting a battle where you would have the South going up against Austria-Hungary.

Well, there you have it. If that doesn't get the fires of imagination burning to produce some top-notch ideas for saving the Mums, nothing will.

(Now that I think about it, however, I hope that last statement is not accurate).

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail editor.

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