Clevemore Fancy Brigade was founded by Ralph Tursi, “the Godfather of Mummery”, in 1936. The club got its name from its original meeting place of Cleveland & Moore Streets in South Philadelphia. The club began parading in 1937 and disbanded in the early 40’s due to wartime. In the late 50’s Clevemore reorganized and began parading again, with Ralph Tursi still a strong part of the brigade. Clevemore has always inspired the family feeling that was originally built around Tursi, as his son (Dan Sr.) served as the brigade’s captain for many years through the 70’s & 80’s until his retirement in 1989. His son Dan Jr. became Captain in 1990 and led the brigade until his Brother Ralph (the brigade founder’s namesake) took over in 1994 and became Captain, Ralph remains captain today. Ralph believes in his Grandfathers vision and remains true to the legacy that was handed down through the generations. His is a strong leadership and he has brought back the family feeling to the brigade that was missed for many years.
The brigade has seen many family units come of age with the Tursi Family, others include; Di Genova’s, Masino’s, Cola’s, Murray’s, and Jackson’s. Friendships, relationships and some marriages including the captain and his wife and another member and his wife, were built throughout this brigade. Dan Tursi’s brother in law (John Lucas was once captain) and now Ralph Tursi’s Brother in Law (Don Cola Jr.) supports him as President.
An all-male brigade for many years began to change when Clevemore’s membership dwindled from the 80+ they had in the 60’s & 70’s and in the early 80’s. The brigade fell to a crushing 30 and enlisted help from friends, and a local dance studio to dance with the brigade. This eventually led to the brigade featuring “female dancers”, who would pay for the costumes they wore. Then in 1999 women joined as full paying members and today we have a very even mix of men and women in various age groups.
A long ago tradition in mummery was that men would raise their sons to become mummers, well in this brigade the tradition continues with a positive twist as men are raising their daughters in the art of mummery. This is proven by many of the club members today as well as the captain himself as his daughter Jacqueline who will wear her eighth suit with the brigade in 2005.
The brigade celebrates together throughout the year at various parties and club functions. Clevemore also joins in many local parades within the tri-state area.
The club parades annually in New Jersey and in many parts of the Philadelphia area.