Daddy’s Home! TSgt. Timothy Luko Gets a Mummers Welcome in Philadelphia

by on January 26th, 2011
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2nd and Dickenson Streets in Philadelphia last Saturday afternoon, was everything good about family, friends, home, country and apple pie. I experienced a Small Town America in one square block with a vision of beautiful children, fresh-scrubbed teenagers, applauding adults, revved up engines, waving flags, a marching band, wholesome values and a hero home from Afghanistan. It brought tears to almost the eyes of almost everyone.

To View Photos of the event, click here:

Timothy Luko grew up in Pennsport, the only child of Marie, a doting Italian mother, and a hard-working Polish dad, Big Tim Luko. His friendships were forged early, in the first grade, and were made for a lifetime. “We all went to either Mt. Carmel, Sacred Heart, or St. Casimir’s grammar school” begins Dan Stevenson, Luko’s best friend.” We played sports together, did EOM, shared holidays, were at each other’s house constantly. We were all like brothers to each to other. There’s about a core of 50 of us. My first child and his first child were born on the same day. I’m that baby’s godfather.”

We’re sitting in the Satin Slipper Fancy Brigade clubhouse. Food prepared by all the families is laid out in row upon row. Guys are bustling about, making sure that everything is just right. So much love went into this event you can breathe it. Captain of the club, Tom Gindville, is bursting with anticipation. “Timmy’s my right hand man. He was captain of the club from 2006 to 2010. Then he got deployed. He still does the choreography.” I’m puzzled. How does one do choreography intercontinentally? “We email each other. He may have 30 seconds to look in a mirror, try out the moves and then respond. It just works!” In a neighborhood where 3rd and 4th generations of Mummers are common, Luko began as a wench in Froggy Carr Comics. “A lot of teenagers start out there!” laughs Michael Otto, a 4th generation Mummer. “But eventually he made his way here and because he has a natural ability and being able to pick up things on the fly, he was elected captain. He never missed a parade and was always part of it. But he wanted to serve our country and joined the Air Force.” I asked what makes Luko the exceptional individual he’s become. Brother-in-law David Balilionis is quick to point out the Luko is “the most stand-up guy you’ll ever meet. He’ll give you the shirt off his back. His parents are awesome. His focus is Family, Military and Mummers. I’m getting goose bumps just talking about him.”

At 2 P.M. sharp, we gathered outside for the flashing blue lights of a police escort while in the background, a combination of Fralinger and Quaker City string bands played traditional Mummers music. Next came the smoke and lightening of the Warriors Watch Riders, a troop support organization consisting of bikers that use their motorcycles to draw attention to our soldiers. Founder Wayne Lutz told me he wants people to “see our troops the same way we look at our sports and rock stars. This is poignant. Every one of the men and women who raise their hands and takes an oath knows full well that it can cost them their lives. When I came home from Viet Nam, the best thing people could do was ignore me.”

Squeezing my way into the kissing and hugging I asked Luko what he made of the fanfare. “I’m very surprised, but not shocked” he said. “It so amazing what is happening here today. But I have to tell you that nowhere in the world is there anything like South Philly.”

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