Golden Crown’s roots were established in 1958. Members of the Darktown Strutters, along with Pappy Martin, an old-timer with connections to the Klein Fancy Club, first organized under the name, George Martin N.Y.B. Club meetings were held at Pappy’s home on Daly Street with Joe Julia as President, John Stewart as Captain, Herkie Rivell as Treasurer and Jim Gorman as Sergeant-at-Arms.
In 1959, the Brigade marched on Broad Street for the first time. The theme “Melody of Stars” brought the club a 10th place finish. Miniature stars were scattered into the crowds of spectators while the music included “Catch a Falling Star”. Joe Julia became Captain of the brigade in 1960 and the clubhouse was moved to “John’s” garage on the 300 block of Jackson Street. The brigade voted in a new and “fancier name – the “Silver Crown”.
The year 1961 was to be a new beginning. Joe Schubert was elected Captain and under his leadership the Brigade had quite a few strong finishes to brag about. The Brigade placed first in 1963 with “Dancing Through the Season”. Dance routines were introduced along with props and scenery. They were a first in Brigade history and became a Silver, and then a Golden Crown trademark.
Bob Finnegan, the Brigade’s friend and designer, first marched with the Crown in 1961. Although he only marched that first year, he continued to design for the club until 1966. He returned as designer in 1977 and has since served the Club in the capacity of designer, costumer and at times, choreographer.
In 1962, the Club was forced to give up the name Silver Crown. The new Golden Crown became a club for the “family”. The Julias, Gormans, Rivells, Szymborskis, Volkmans and the Schuberts were some of the first “families”
In the early days, the Fancy Brigades parades with the “Mother Clubs.” The Crown first paraded with the Oregon Mother Club, the Klein Club, later Golden Sunrise then finally due to a conflict over payment for the band, with Hog Island Mother Club under Bob Meimbresse.
In 1964, Golden Crown purchased a clubhouse at 2022 S. 3rd Street from the Golden Slipper Club and remained there until 1966 when the club folded. Joe Schubert, the Captain, left the club due to job commitments. The club was unable to march in 1967, 1968 and 1969. Joe returned to the club in 1969. With the help of some old, and some new members, the Brigade parade in 1970 to a 7th place finish with the theme “CheckMate.”
In 1972, Joe again had to leave Golden Crown. Joe Keyser was elected captain and after meeting at the O’Malley Club from 1970 to 1975, the Club headquarters was moved to 2nd and Jackson Streets.
Bill Burke, Jr. filled a suit for the Club in 1972. The rest became Golden Crown history. Bill became a member and then in 1976, was elected Captain. Bill remained the Club’s captain until 2004. Each year Golden Crown’s reputation grew under Bill’s leadership. The culmination came in 1983, the with first place finish for “Japanese Cherry Blossom Fantasy.” The Club’s performance, which included Bill as Madame Butterfly, in a Cherry Blossom setting was spectacular!
In 1984, the Brigade repurchased the property at 2022 S. Third Street from the Strutters N.Y.B. After a few minor renovations, South Third Street still remains today as the “home and heart of Golden Crown.”
The Club’s successes in the 1980’s were many. Much of the success can be attributed to two choreographers over those years, Dennis Quale and Suzy Miller. In the 1990’s the Club, with a new and talented choreographer, Jeannette Rawlings, continued to receive kudos for their dance routines. In 1997, Jeannette also assumed duties as drill director. Prior to that, the Club owed thanks to Mike Rayer for his direction. The Brigade’s achievements in the 1980’s and 1990’s established Golden Crown’s reputation as fierce competitors. Golden Crown, a small family Brigade, under the leadership of Presidents Franny Zane and Mark Coley, became a force to be reckoned with. As recently as 1996, the Brigade placed 2nd, one half point behind the first prize winners. Captain Bill Burke Jr. placed 1st as Best Dressed Captain.
In 1996 and 1998, Golden Crown was judged 1st at the Doubletree Hotel by the people and by the Doubletree News. At Methodist Hospital, the Brigade was consistently judged in the top three.
In 1998, Golden Crown, along with the other Brigades, started what has become a wonderful tradition. Performances and judging now take place at the Philadelphia Convention Center after a weeklong MummerFest!
Candid Camera featured Golden Crown in its broadcast on March 6, 1998. It was shown on national television and the Club was immortalized!
In 2001, Captain Bill Burke celebrated his 25th Anniversary as Golden Crown’s captain, a fete that had only been achieved once before. The theme “Reflections from the Dark Side of the Moon” was a memorable and very successful one with both club and captain taking 4th prize.
Late in 2003 Captain Burke announced that 2004 would be his last parade as Golden Crown’s captain. 28 years of memories culminated in one very emotional and tearful performance, “Sorcerers: a Fantasy of Color.”
In 2005 Charles Kueny was elected captain, obviously with huge shoes to fill. In his first year, Charles led Golden Crown to a 3rd place finish with the beautifully energetic performance of “East Meets West.”
For 2008, our 50th year, Golden Crown was delighted to welcome the very talented Geri Vanore as choreographer. Under Geri's guidance, Golden Crown proudly presented the thrilling “ROBO-motion”; another prize-winning performance for both club and captain.
After 5 years as captain, Charles Kueny lead Golden Crown for another stellar 3rd place finish with “SEA-crets of the Deep”. We thank him for 5 years of commitment and passionate leadership.
2009 marked the dawning of a new era. After years as Vice President, Bob Runowski was elected captain. His dedication and innovative mind contributed to all aspects of Mummery, everyday of the year. Golden Crown looks forward to his preeminent guidance in the upcoming years.
Over the years faces have changed, children have grown and people have come and gone. So much has changed and yet so much remains the same. We are a family, committed to each other in so many ways.
Thank You to everyone – Members, past and present, Marshalls, Friends, Associates and, most importantly Family – who has helped us along the way!