The Aqua String Band is an all-volunteer string band, best known for our participation in Philadelphia's annual Mummers Parade. The Band was organized on April 2, 1920 by Elmer W. Leyrer and Fred J. Kesel, Sr. and incorporated into the String Band Association in 1945. It was Mr. Kesel who first introduced the glockenspiel (bells) into the Mummers' Parade where it has remained a constant fixture ever since.
The name “Aqua” is a reflection on the life and times of the United States during the Band’s birth. Latin for the word water, "Aqua" was chosen as an ironic reference to the then raging controversy over Prohibition – “aqua”, or water, being the only legal drink at the time.
The Band has never missed a New Year's Day Parade since the time they first stepped onto “The Street” (as Broad Street is familiarly known among those in the tradition); this makes Aqua not only one of the oldest, but also one of the most consistent bands in the Parade. Known for presenting original and creative themes, Aqua holds the record for the highest points ever scored in the New Year's Day Parade with a 99.9 from their First Place finish in 1960.
The Band travels extensively throughout the country entertaining millions of viewers, parade goers, and concert attendees. In addition to Philadelphia area parades, private events and concerts, other notable performances include participating in the second largest St Patrick's Day Parade in the country in Holyoke, Massachusetts, the Coney Island Mermaid Parade, the Baltimore's Mayor's Christmas Parade, and both Pittsburgh's and East Longmeadow, Massachusetts’ 4th of July Parades. The Band has even traveled to Germany and appeared in numerous Fasching (Carnival) parades and celebrations throughout the country.