Mummers Parade enduring storm of a different kind this year

October 24, 2012

Another year, another drama for the Mummers Parade.

And I mean a real drama, not the kind that happens here in the newsroom every year when we try to remember whether or not “Mummers Parade” has an apostrophe, and if so, where.

Last year the Mums was canceled because of a rare, late-October snowstorm. This allowed the directors of the parade to enjoy the same constructive criticisms the school board receives a dozen times during the course of the year, when helpful parents decide that classes should/should not have been canceled over too much/too little snow.

But this year the controversy centers on beauty queens. (I think we’ve passed that little mini-era we went through when we had to refer to them as “scholarship queens,” but I might stand to be corrected.)

The problem is that Hagerstown has too many beauty queens. And no, I’m not smoking anything.

Beauty queens apparently are bottled up at the city line eager for a chance to appear on a float in the Mummers Parade — a revelation that came to light this week when the Alsatia Club denied access to a young Hagerstown woman who is the reigning Miss Chesapeake State Teen Jessica Madden.


Jessica said she watched the parade as a child, and dreamed of being a beauty queen on a float in her home town.

Makes sense. The problem, said Alsatia chairman James McCleaf, is that the Miss Chesapeake State Teen is associated with the Miss America Coed Pageant, and lacks affiliation with the Miss Maryland Pageant, which in turn is an arm of the — hold on here, I have to go back and check my notes — of the Miss America organization.

So in other words, Miss Chesapeake State Teen is not of the same ilk as, for example, Miss Western Maryland, Miss Francis Scott Key, Miss Historic Maryland, Miss Appalachia, Miss Queen State, Miss Free State, Miss Mountain City, Miss University City, et. al.

And believe you me, I am not joking about any of the above, because I know if I get one little fact out of line I’ll have a thousand beauty queens beating down my ...

Hmm. OK, perhaps I am overstating the potential problem. But the fact remains that the beauty queen situation is much like boxing in the 1980s, when the World Boxing Association recognized Tony Tubbs as the heavyweight champ, but the International Boxing Federation said it was Michael Spinks, much to the chagrin of the World Boxing Council (Michael Spinks) and the World Boxing Organization, which for a brief time gave the nod to James “Bonecrusher” Smith.

I mean, I know it’s really not the same, but it does serve to illustrate the potential for confusion any time there are multiple sanctioning agencies.

Hagerstown has a long and productive association with the Miss Maryland Pageant, so I understand and appreciate the desire to remain loyal, if that’s what this is about.

But I am curious about McCleaf’s contention that if the club allows one outlier to participate, it will lead to a virtual tsunami of young women who want to spend Halloween in Hagerstown.

“If we bend it this time, it might open up the door,” McCleaf said.

Right. Nothing worse than an avalanche of young, attractive women. Except can I suggest that just maybe we could have two parades? One would be the standard Mummers, and the other would have nothing but floats piled up with beauty queens.

So you would have the Mummers Parade and the Lechers Parade. Apostrophe optional. I know which one I’d watch.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 6997, or via email at

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