Mummers, Lend Me Your Mardi Gras Beads – But Leave The Plastic Lead-Painted Swords

One of my favorite things about Philadelphia is the Mummers Parade. For over 100 years, generations of families and friends have produced elaborate displays of costume, set design, music, dancing, and performance to rival the greatest Broadway spectacles. And all of this is unveiled while the performers and spectators are stone cold drunk. It’s something to behold.

Of course, many sober families do attend as well, so the people make sure there is plenty for the children. And that’s where the vendors come in. At least a hundred of these identical swag carts appear through the streets hawking New Year’s hats and blow-up Spongebob Squarepants bats. Understanding that where there’s children – and parents whose spending willpower is tempered by hangovers – there will be people trying to sell junk, I don’t get too bent out of shape. I even embrace the Mardi Gras beads and free peanut chews and let my son have a soft pretzel for lunch.

However, taking a closer look at these carts, my mind is blown by the horrendous display of lower-than-low quality made-in-China garbage. The poster items for lead and cadmium poisoning and why people don’t bring their children to the dollar store. Shiny swords and guns (the vast array of weapons is a whole other topic), silver and gold metallic princess sets…I’m not sure how these items were obtained or who gives permission for these carts to vend on Broad Street, but I have a feeling much of it was picked from the reject bins after a sweep by the EPA.

Fortunately my son hasn’t reached the point where he’s begging us to buy him things. But, in the meantime, I can look forward to a windswept storm of toxic toy debris on my front stoop tomorrow morning.

 


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