The Mummers Parade is held each New Year's Day in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Local clubs (usually called "New Years Associations") compete in one of four categories (Comics, Fancies, String Bands, and Fancy Brigades). They prepare elaborate costumes and moveable scenery, which take months to complete.
The Mummers Parade traces back to mid-17th century roots, blending elements from Swedish, Finnish, Irish, English, German and other European heritages, as well as African-American heritage. The parade is related to the Mummers Play tradition from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Revivals of this tradition are still celebrated annually in South Gloucestershire, England on Boxing Day and in parts of Ireland on St. Stephen's Day.
Each year, thousands of people participate in the parade, many wearing elaborate costumes costing tens of thousands of dollars to make and weighing well over 100 pounds. $395,000 in prizes is awarded to the various winners. The costs for making the outfits plus fees to choreographers and prop designers often far exceed the prizes available. While club fund raisers, hall rentals, bank loans and the like often cover much of the expense, individual members frequently spend hundreds or thousands of dollars of their own money.
As of 2008, the parade cost the city over $1 million each year, including $750,000 for police and parade services and $360,000 in prize money. The 2008 budget crisis has led the city to propose closing numerous libraries and firehouses and the scaling back of expenditures for the parade, offering $300,000 for the 2009 parade and nothing for 2010.
So really, if you get the chance, turn it on for even a few minutes. It's a true joy and it will leave you with a giant grin on your face.