The Greater Overbrook String Band has a long and storied history. It has been participating in the Philadelphia New Year’s Day Mummers Parade since 1931 and has been entertaining audiences in shows
and parades year round ever since. The Band has traveled to various cities throughout the United States and Canada since its formation and has visited Cuba, Italy, and Ireland.
The Band has appeared on National Television in the Fiesta Bowl Parade in Phoenix, Arizona and in the Music Across America Parade held in Washington, DC. We proudly march in various parades and perform in various concerts throughout the Delaware Valley, to preserve, promote and educate the public as to the String Band Tradition and its unique costuming and musical genre.
The Band’s origins go back to 1928, when Harry Whitman formed the “Harry Whitman String Band” as a musical group which also operated under the name “Upper Darby String Band” for a short time. The Band marched in its first New Year’s Day Parade in 1931 under the name “69th Street String Band” with a College Sports theme. In 1939, the Band changed its name to the “Whitman String Band”, and continued to perform with Harry Whitman as Captain until 1950 when Harry Straub took over as Captain. In 1952 the name of the Band changed to “Greater Overbrook String Band” and has remained the same ever since. In 1977, the Band was incorporated as a Pennsylvania Non-Profit Corporation. In 1997, the Band merged with the Italian-American String Band and reorganized.
The Band has marched behind a variety of Captains, including Hall of Fame Inductees Harry Whitman, Harry Straub, Jimmy Driadon and Harry Hill. The band prides itself on having other past and present members elected into the in the Old Timers, Philadelphia String Band Association, and Penn Jersey Association Halls of Fame.
The Band originally hailed from the 69th Street Neighborhood of Upper Darby PA, then moved to the Overbrook Section of Philadelphia — often performing at the Italian-American Democratic Club on 66th and Media Streets. In 1997, the clubhouse relocated to 1801 South 2nd Street in Pennsport, Philadelphia. In 2009 the Band returned to its roots in Upper Darby, establishing its current headquarters in the Highland Park Fire Station (Engine 26). In honor of the hospitality shown by our firefighter hosts, we proudly performed our theme “Fire Fightin’ Follies” for the 2012 New Year’s Parade under the leadership of UDFC Deputy Fire Chief John Hicks (Ret.) as Captain.
The Greater Overbrook String Band prides itself on being an all-volunteer, family based organization. We have entire families that participate together, as musicians, dancers, prop builders and parade marshals. We have experienced and novice musicians, all of whom are constantly striving to improve.
We work hard to put on a good show for the New Year’s Day Parade and to provide quality entertainment for our audiences throughout the year. We are proud to carry on the tradition of Philadelphia Mummery and preserve the unique String Band Sound for future generations.
The Band currently resides at the Clifton Heights Fire Hall, 20 W. Baltimore Ave, Clifton Heights, PA 19018.
Thank you for taking the time to read this!