When you think of the Mummers, you think the music, the crowds and of course the incredible costumes. Philadelphia’s colorful New Year’s Day tradition, complete with the sequins, feathers and big headdresses have been a staple for more than one hundred and twenty years.
"It’s fascinating to be a little kid looking at a table full of these amazing drawings... and just being overwhelmed. Then a few months later seeing them for real."
Mummers costume designer, David Rigler has been working with Mummers groups to turn their themes into reality since 2000. From Aqua's Mine Blown to Hegeman's Golden Gala, Rigler says each costume has to have its own character and being.
"Their presentations are so visually amazing now and overwhelming that the costumes now have to rise to that. The costumes and the sets have to be on the same level. What’s tricky, and something that I really try to do every year is that it can’t look like somebody spilled a bag of skittles."
Rigler’s love for the Mummers started when he as just six years old. That’s the first time he marched down Broad Street. He found his passion in college and found a way to turn what was a hobby into a career. Now having worked with the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey, Disney, Universal Studios theme park even designing costumes Off-Broadway...all of that has brought him back home to where it all began.
“This year I happen to be working with seven bands and I work with one fancy brigade. Even though audiences and the people in the community see the Mummers parade now and everyone is rehearsing and building stuff… really it’s a 12 month process.”
On New Year’s Day, he’ll see his costumes one last time before they hit Broad Street.
“I like to go around to all the groups that I work with and wish them good luck and watch them get made up and warm up and do rehearsals before they get on the bus.”