SOUTH PHILADELPHIA, PA -- Longtime Mummer legend, Joe King, is battling cancer right now, and just like on New Year’s Day in the parade, his Mummer family is right there behind him every step of the way.
This weekend, hundreds of Mummers are expected to show support for King, who's in need of some help.
Joe has played the banjo in the New Year’s Day Mummer’s parade for 52 years. “The most gratifying feeling I’ve ever had in my life in Mummery right now is my grandsons,” said King. Joe’s dad, his four brothers and now his grandsons are all Mummers. Many of them are in the Mummers Hall of Fame.
Joe has taught countless musicians over the years, whether during his time in the Trillby String Band or for the past 16 years with the South Philly String Band. Joe also owned a music store which recently closed.
Over the past few months, Joe’s life has been turned upside down. “Joe has been diagnosed with terminal cancer,” explained Daniel Spencer. Spencer is Joe’s lifelong friend, bandmate, and now a director of the Mummer’s parade. Spencer says when a Mummer needs help, it doesn’t matter what band you’re in; the Mummers stick together.
So this weekend, the Mummers Against Cancer Foundation is having a benefit for Joe at the South Philly String Band clubhouse located at 2820 Porter Street from 4 to 8pm. They’re asking for a $30 donation to help offset some of Joe’s medical expenses.
Joe’s older brother Thomas says they lost their other brother, Robert, to cancer last October. Thomas King said, “It's hard. I mean, it's your family and you don't wish that on anyone…You can never block the tears away because it's your heart that's broken; but we are going to have a ball Sunday, trust me we are!”
The King family says they’ve still got a rough road ahead, but with the support of the Mummers, it’s making it easier on everyone…especially Joe.
Joe told PHL17, “It's such a gratifying feeling to know that people have your back…Hopefully I’m in their prayers because they're always in mine.”
For more on the benefit this Sunday July 23, click here!