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Exclusive | Gaily ringing in Philadelphia's New Year

Exclusive | Gaily ringing in Philadelphia's New Year

If we had to draw a comparison, Philadelphia's annual Mummers Parade would be a little like Pride, a Harlem Drag Ball and the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade all rolled into one. Drawing almost 12,000 LGBT and gay-friendly devotees, the 106-year-old tradition ranks as one of the city's biggest (unofficial) gay events of the year. Considering that it kicks off at 8 a.m. on New Year's Day with many revelers coming directly from New Year's Eve festivities, that's no mean feat. "By noon, the gayborhood bars a block from the parade route are already packed," says Jeff Guarancino, Philadelphia's LGBT tourism expert. "From South Philly to City Hall," he adds, "there are men in the streets wearing costumes of sequins, boas, feathers and wigs -- many of whom are not gay at all!" Having almost $35,000 in costume prize money doesn't hurt, but true to Philadelphia's "brotherly love" motto, the Mummers Parade isn't about winning or competition. Many of the elaborate ensembles cost more than the wildest earnings, running into the thousands and taking months to construct. If you haven't made New Year's plans yet, also consider this -- Philadelphia boasts some of the gay-friendliest luxury hotels this side of Oz.
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