By Chris Concannon
The Philadelphia Mummers Parade is a time-honored, New Year’s Day tradition for the Quaker City String Band.
The majority of original band members live west of the Walt Whitman Bridge.
But, for Rich Schad, 56, and his son, Brian, 33, the quieter and less-bustling suburbs of Bellmawr have been their home for several years.
The elder Schad of Glenview Avenue, and his son, mere moments away on Majestic Avenue, share year-round duties as members of the String Band, which had garnered multiple championships under the captaincy of retired Captain Bob Shannon Jr.
Rich Schad began his Mummery in 1971 after meeting his long-time friend, John Rasmus, 54, of Bellmawr, on a stoop in South Philadelphia.
Together, they joined the Viking NYB. His connections grew larger when he met and married his wife, Deb, whose father was president of the Lobster NYB during that time.
Following a 10-year stint with Viking, he moved into the string band division by joining the Durning String Band in 1981.
Durning currently hosts several South Jersey members, including Jerry La Rosa Jr, another Bellmawr Mummer contribution.
La Rosa was Captain of Durning until his final parade this past New Year’s Day 2009.
Life with Durning was short-lived, though, as Rich then moved over to Third and Mc Kean Streets, picking up with Quaker City in 1982. He remains there to this day.
“The club members are very dedicated,” he said.
The same could also be said of any Mummers-related organization, such as Comics, Fancies and String Bands.
His son, Brian, followed in his father’s footsteps, growing up around Mummery as a child.
His 22-year string band career has seen him play with the likes of the Duffy, Greater Kensington and Quaker City bands.
The chance to travel has fascinated the younger Schad, as he has played in Hong Kong twice, one of which celebrating the Chinese New Year in China.
Their Irish background was also bolstered, as they have also played in Ireland several times.
The responsibilities of raising a young family with his wife, Rose, has limited the amount of time he can spend with the band.
Together they have two children: their daughter, Caitlin, 2, and Brian Jr., 1.
Brian is currently pursuing a career as a paramedic, which curtails his free time even further.
According to family friend John “Johnny Raz” Rasmus, whose family got him into Mummery at age 5, the love of walking up Broad Street every year is what does it for him.
He met Rich Schad after joining Quaker City 25 years ago, following a stint as a member of the Manton Street Fancy Brigade.
Along with the aforementioned Jerry La Rosa of Durning, these three “Quakers” have and continue to enjoy a great love of life, and a family of fun, feathers, and frolic.