Oh, There’s No Place Like Philadelphia for the H lidays

While many North Jersey residents refer to “the city” as New York City, South Jersey residents prefer the smaller city of Philadelphia. While South Jersey locals are aware of the plethora of activities Philadelphia has to offer, many tend to overlook the Pennsylvania city in favor of the promoted New York City. With a wide range of activities from ice skating to plays to just enjoying the holiday décor, Philadelphia has everything to get in the holiday mood.

Without a doubt, one of Philadelphia’s most treasured holiday traditions would be none other than the annual New Year’s Day Mummer’s parade. These Mummers parade through the city commonly doing what is known as ‘the mummer’s strut’ in elaborate costume like outfits.

In fact, the term ‘mummer’ is German for ‘to masquerade.’ On January 1 at 10 am every year, they can be seen strutting on the streets of Philadelphia for eight consecutive hours eventually ending their parade at City Hall. English Professor Susan Stever has fond memories of growing up in Philadelphia and watching the Mummers strut.

“Local clubs spent all year working on costumes for the Mummers parade. This camaraderie, fair play, and kindness and the reciprocal neighborhood support really symbolized the city of brotherly love,” Stever recalled. “Jan 1st was often extremely cold in the 50’s and 60’s-but I have vivid memories of Mummers in full costume warming up in my school yard before the parade. I loved walking by to see the brightly colored feathers and hear the banjo music.”

Another local of the area, sophomore Steven Haskell, tunes into the mummer’s parade every year. “The Mummers parade is probably my favorite thing that Philly does for the holidays. Everyone dresses up and performs skits that make fun of popular issues. It’s just good fun,” Haskell said. Much like Stever and Haskell, sophomore Jennifer Hoffman enjoys watching the Mummers parade but from the comfort of her home. “While I have never gone [to the Mummers parade], it is fun to watch it on TV because it is unique to the city of Philadelphia. My family and I always watch it every New Year’s Day as a tradition to see all the string bands and colorful costumes that the Mummers wear,” Hoffman stated.

While the Mummers tradition is not until the New Year, there are many other options Philadelphia offers involving the holidays in December. One of the most beloved areas to go in Philadelphia around the holidays is the Blue Cross River Rink. While this site is technically called Blue Cross River Rink, it is most commonly referred to as Penn’s Landing or merely River Rink. The ice skating rink is located right on the Delaware River and is one of the most popular spots to view the New Year’s Eve fireworks from. The River Rink costs a mere $9 for admission and $4 for skate rental as compared to NYC’s Rockefeller Center Rink which is a hefty $25 for admission and $10 for skate rental.

Much like NYC, Philadelphia also has a production of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker at The Academy of Music located on Locust Street. This year marks the 25th Anniversary of George Balanchine’s version of The Nutcracker being performed at the Academy of Music by the acclaimed Pennsylvania Ballet. The ballet is accompanied by the vocal talents of the world renowned Philadelphia’s Boys’ Choir every year.

Unlike the Radio City Music Hall production of Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, the Pennsylvania Ballet was formed in 1963 by a protégé of the world renowned George Balanchine. With a cast equally talented as those on Broadway, the performance will be playing until December 30.

Many even enjoy a brisk walk around the city and enjoying the atmosphere. Senior Samantha Hopkins believes that Philadelphia’s number one winter holiday attribute is the decorations. “I like going to Love Park and seeing all the trees lit up along with all the holiday decor,” Hopkins proclaimed.

Light shows have been in high demand around the city. The two most famous light shows the city offers can be found in Macy’s on Market Street and at the Comcast Center on JFK Boulevard, both of which are free. If walking around the city, one can also pass by Rittenhouse Square and see a towering Christmas Tree light up.

Another light orientated option would be to make a trip to Longwood Gardens. Open year round, Longwood Gardens is a special destination during the holiday season. The Garden is home to an abundance of light shows and a beautiful, festive walk through garden during the holiday season.

One of Philadelphia’ favorite light themed traditions is Boathouse Row. Located right along the Schuylkill river, the buildings of Boathouse Row are all decorated the same way and reflect onto the water creating a magical appearance.

Much like New York City’s Bryant Park, the city of Philadelphia has their annual ‘Christmas Village’ in Love Park. This year’s ‘village’ persay includes 61 vendors. One of the main attractions of the Village, as usual, are the plethora of oranments from lands such as Egypt, Russia, and Ukraine.

The vendors also sell items from wine, to art, to clothing, to toys and much more. You can also get pictures with Santa Claus at the Christmas Village.

Others, like Philadelphia native sophomore Eryn Siddal, enjoy the variety of fine dining offered in Philadelphia. “South Street has really awesome stores and food places to shop, not just during the holidays but all year round. I’d compare it to Canal Street in New York. There’s also really nice restaurants in Center City like the Moshulu which is actually a ship turned into a restaurant right on the Delaware River,” Siddal stated.

Freshman Mike Cisero enjoys the array of restaurants in Philadelphia but likes them even more during the holiday season because they bring his family together. “I like Philly during the holiday season because of the great restaurants the city has which my family and I go to,” Cisero said.

Whether it be with friends, family, or a certain someone, Philadelphia provides a great alternative as it offers just as many, if not more, holiday activities than the chaotic New York City. However, for some, the chaos of NYC is part of its’ charm.