By Daniel Kelley
PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - Philadelphia's annual Mummers Parade is so wildly popular in the city of Brotherly Love that a broadcaster has started showing hour after hour of reruns for folks who cannot wait for the live event on New Year's Day.
Thousands of people line Broad Street each year to watch Mummer brigades compete with one another as they don outlandish displays of sequins and feathers and march in a distinctly Philadelphia tradition.
Even though the parade can last as long as 11 hours, the pageant is the highest-rated event on television in the region on New Year's Day.
Up to 2.2 million people in the Philadelphia area watch the parade at home, said Steve Giannini, general manager of WPHL-17, which has started rebroadcasting Mummers parades dating back to 1995 from 6 a.m. until midnight every day until Jan. 1.
“It's amazing in today's television, high-profile events have become a big source of pride for people,” he said.
The tradition of Mummery dates to 1694 and can be traced to early Swedish settlers. Over the centuries, Irish, Italian and German immigrant groups have added their own traditions to the parade, according to Mark Montanaro, coordinator of the Mummers Museum.
The parade in its current format goes back more than 100 years.
“The current parade as it exists today has been passed down from generation to generation,” Montanaro said. “It's very family oriented.”
The reruns will appear on channel 17.4, a broadcast channel available for those with digital antennas, and takes the place of a format that formerly broadcast traffic updates. Two cable companies will also host the channel in the region.
(Reporting by Daniel Kelley; Editing by Frank McGurty and Eric Beech)