The Philadelphia Aqua String Band Mummers performed Saturday night at Union Kitchen and McLadden’s in West Hartford Center.
By Ronni Newton
On the eve of St. Patrick’s Day, West Hartford Center was already a bevy of celebratory activity – and then the Philadelphia Aqua String Band Mummers showed up.
A vintage Peter Pan double-decker bus parked in front of Union Kitchen and McLadden’s on LaSalle Road, while the Mummers organized in the back parking lot, donning their elaborately-sequined and brightly-colored costumes, and then parading right through the front door of Union Kitchen to the delight of diners, some of whom had no idea that the Mummers were coming.
Led by “Kenny,” the captain of the Philadelphia Aqua String Mummers – bedecked in a decadently bedazzled costume complete with a feather headdress – the band danced and played traditional favorites, including “When You’re Smiling.”
Kenny made sure that Mayor Shari Cantor, who was dining at Union Kitchen with her husband and a large group of friends, joined in for a special dance.
The Philadelphia Aqua String Mummers will celebrate their 100th anniversary next year, and the all-volunteer band has participated in every Mummers Parade in Philadelphia since their formation.
The string band – which by definition does not use brass instruments but instead features assorted saxophones, banjos, accordions, violins and bass violins, glockenspiels, and other percussion instruments – performs in the annual Holyoke St. Patrick’s Day Parade every year – which is how they came to be in the area.
Andy Yee of Bean Restaurant Group – now the parent company of Union Kitchen and McLadden’s – is friends with the Mummers’ maestro, Brian Elliott, and has been bringing the band to entertain at their Springfield area restaurants for years.
Yee, on hand to greet the Mummers in West Hartford, along with business partner Peter Picknelly of Peter Pan Bus Lines, said he was so excited for the band’s premiere performance in West Hartford.
After entertaining the crowd at Union Kitchen, the Mummers moved outside where some played from the top of the double-decker bus and others stood on the sidewalk, to the delight of passersby.
The Philadelphia Aqua String Band Mummers ended their visit at McLadden’s.
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