Mummers take ugly sticks and hobby horses to the streets of St. John's for annual parade
Important to share tradition of mummering, says executive director
Hundreds of people covered their faces, donned silly, oversized clothes and took to the streets of St. John's Saturday afternoon for the 11th annual Mummers Parade.
The mummers rigged up and paraded their hobby horses and ugly sticks through Georgestown before wrapping up with a scuff and a scoff — a dance and a snack of Purity syrup and cookies — at The Lantern.
Terra Barrett, executive director of the Mummers Festival, says it's exciting to get to share the tradition of mummering with people who aren't familiar with it, be they locals or New Canadians.
"It's great to be able to educate people on what mummering is, why we do this tradition, the joy that it brings for people," she said.
"The hope, of course, is that people continue to mummer afterwards — they leave here and maybe during the 12 days of Christmas, they go out themselves. It's just that education piece, that it's a unique custom for Newfoundland and Labrador, and that we hope that it continues for years to come."
Barrett said the festival started in 2009, with about 300 people taking part in the first parade, and the event has grown steadily ever since.
It was Donald Smith's first time in the parade, and he said it brought back memories of when he would mummer as a young boy in Norris Arm
"We used to take the guitar and the accordion with us and go from house to house," he said.
"It was wonderful."
It was also Laurie-Anne Shannahan's first parade — and her first Christmas at home in Newfoundland and Labrador in 32 years.
"I want a Newfoundland Christmas — salt meat, Jiggs dinner, mummers," she said.
But the Mummers Festival isn't over yet. Barrett said there are also workshops and public events scheduled at The Rooms as part of the festival.
The plans have already begun for next year's Mummers Festival, she said, and she's happy to keep the tradition alive in Newfoundland and Labrador.
With files from Jeremy Eaton