Fralinger String Band’s 2013 Parade Officers
This year Fralinger String Band will be led by Captain Thomas D’Amore, Presentation Director Jeff Crompton, Music Director Kenny Niewinski, and Arranger John Wernega.
Thomas D’Amore, Captain
Thomas officially joined the band in September 2000 as an alto saxophone player. His first year as a costumed performer was 2002 where he debuted as a dancer. For the past 9 years, Thomas played his saxophone during the year and performed as a dancer on New Year’s Day. He was elected Captain in March 2009, following Bill Bowen’s retirement after 27 consecutive years of leadership as the “winningest” String Band Captain in Mummers history. Needless to say, Thomas is excited about the opportunity to continue Fralinger’s winning ways. The entire D’Amore Family will also lend their support as Mom Karen D’Amore cheers her sons Thomas, Anthony III, Christopher, and husband Anthony Jr. on New Year’s Day.
Thomas’ election as Captain is a major accomplishment. In his first parade as Captain at 21 years old, Thomas became the second-youngest captain in Fralinger history behind Joseph A. Ferko (1915-1921). He also became one of only a handful of Captains in String Band history to win first prize in his very first year as Captain, taking home first prize honors in the 2010 New Years Day Parade, also making him the youngest to ever achieve such an honor. After coming in third place in the 2011 New Years Day Parade, Thomas was quick to return to the top, taking first prize honors again in 2012.
Thomas has plenty of support as he leads the talented Fralinger organization of 150+ members to achieving the ultimate goal of winning a first prize.
“I continue to enjoy the challenge of leading a great organization and being part of something very special. Fralinger has many great members, musicians and marshals, who dedicate their time and effort to produce a spectacular show. I am honored and excited to be part of the Fralinger experience”.
Happy New Year!
Jeff Crompton, Presentation Director
Jeff Crompton was appointed Presentation Director in August 2010. His responsibilities include developing and integrating the overall production presentation, including band drills, dancer choreography, and props. Much of what Jeff offers as Presentation Director has been instilled in him by observing mummer greats like Presentation Director Emeritus, Mike Rayer and by watching many marching band competitions and other productions.
Jeff has over 19 years of experience as a String Band Mummer, with three years at Fralinger. Jeff plays the alto sax, but has played several other instruments. During the year, Jeff participates in band functions and is always willing to dedicate his time to help better the organization.
Jeff resides with his new wife Jen in Wynnewood, PA. Both manage Something Creative LLC, a startup marketing boutique. His father Jerry Crompton and brothers, Jim and Jerry are members of the Avalon String Band.
Jeff earned a Bachelor’s degree from The Pennsylvania State University. He currently works at SEI as an Internal Service Director.
Regarding NYD performances, Jeff says “I look forward to marching with the great group of men that make up this organization, playing great music, and performing for the people of Philadelphia. That is the essence of being a mummer and a member in a string band such as Fralinger. Winning the competition comes second to those things….but not by much!”
Kenny Niewinski, Music Director
Kenny was elected to his position in 2012, after serving as Assistant Music Director for 10 years under former Music Directors Herb Smith and John Wernega. Being Music Director requires a year-round commitment, and Kenny’s responsibilities include rehearsing and preparing the band musically for not only New Year’s Day, but every parade, concert, and special event in which the band performs. Kenny takes full advantage of the band’s musical skills and capabilities, leveraging his Assistant Music Director, Dave Zagorski, former Music Directors Herb and John, and music consultant Bill Garton Sr., who was also his private music teacher.
Kenny has been playing the saxophone for 30 years and has been involved with Fralinger since the age of 6, when his father, John joined the band in 1979. He experienced his first First Prize in 1987, marching with his father and his brothers, John and Kevin. Always feeling fortunate to have grown up in the band, he is fully aware of the expectations and demands that come with continuing to develop the well-recognized “Fralinger Sound”.
Kenny resides in Blackwood, NJ with his wife Stacy, son Brandon, and daughter Olivia. He grew up in South Philadelphia, where his parents still reside, only blocks from the Fralinger club. Kenny has been employed as a union electrician since 1997, working as a Foreman for most of his career.
Kenny says, “the Fralinger String Band has been an integral part of my life. I feel very lucky to have grown up in such a great organization filled with such remarkable people. They have helped shaped me into the person I am today”. Kenny is especially grateful and respectful to all the members that have come before him to establish the Fralinger legacy. Lastly, the one thing he believes above all else: “it’s always about and for the band!”
John Wernega, Arranger
John Wernega wrote his first musical score for Fralinger for the 2002 Mummers Parade. On Music Director Emeritus Herb Smith’s retirement in 2003, John was elected Music Director. In addition to writing the musical arrangements for each New Year’s production, John is responsible for selecting music that is appropriate for each show, as well as making it challenging for the entire ensemble.
John has over 24 years of experience as a String Band Mummer, with 18 years at Fralinger. In 2012, John was inducted into the prestigious String Band Hall of Fame. He has recently relinquished his position as Music Director, but continues as band arranger for the New Year’s Day performance.
He primarily plays the banjo and accordion with the band, but has many other musical and artistic talents, such as photography. John is involved in the Philadelphia Ukrainian community, and has sung and performed music in Ukrainian choirs and at festivals.
John earned a Bachelor’s degree in music education at Rowan College of New Jersey and a Master’s degree at Westminster Choir College. He teaches instrumental and choral music in the Quinton Township School in Salem County, New Jersey, and he is the choir director at Our Lady of Hope parish in Blackwood, New Jersey.