And it was FABULOUS!
Today David and the kids thought they would go out for a little jog. It was cold out, they knew, but their efforts last week had been thwarted by one thing or another and this time they were determined to make a go of it. Not being much of a jogger, I set up my WiiFit and started in with my own exercise routine. About 20 minutes later they clambered back in, declaring that this had been a “very bad idea“. They had worn enough layers to feel comfortable as they ran- except for their faces. The temperature was hovering right around 0 degrees Celsius, and they found all that cold air rushing into their sinuses made them ache! Three snorfly uncomfortable humans plopped down in our apartment.
BUT, while they were out they had noticed something. The little dorf (village) just across the field from us was getting ready for an event. The road was blocked, buses were arriving, and people were wandering around in all sorts of outlandish costumes. David quizzed someone and discovered that today was the Animal Parade- one of the kick-off events for the Fastnacht Season I mentioned in my last post. It wasn’t going to start for another two hours, but he rushed home to tell me to get my camera ready and to dress in layers, because we had somewhere to go! The name for the event in German is Tiermaskentreffen which translates roughly to ‘Animal Mask Meeting’.
Two hours later, having eaten and dressed for the occasion, we headed out the door. We encountered a long line of like-minded locals heading on into Bühl. We passed through the staging ground for the participants and saw many 1/2 costumed performers, then made our way to the entry gate. 9 EU later, we were through and in possession of some tie-shaped “tickets” that also included the lineup for today- 67 registered groups. Wheee! I knew we were in for a long haul, but since we were dressed for it, I was ready. Last year we attended the Offenburg main parade on what proved to be one of the coldest days of the year, -4 degrees by the thermometer on the bank at the edge of town. By comparison, zero was balmy warm!
We poked around a bit to see if there were other entertainments, but nothing immediately appeared, so we just found a relatively quiet piece of sidewalk to stand on. As with most such events, it started a bit late. But, once things got going, it all moved at a pleasantly rapid pace.
The theme of this parade, as I mentioned, was “Animal Masks”, but, as a Fasching parade, it also had its fair share of the usual characters: witches, demons and fools were out in large numbers. The 67 groups were from all over the region. Each town has a guild (or more) who is in charge of their celebrations. Each group dresses up and does some varying amount of performance. Some have bands, and others dance. But the vast majority just MESS with the audience. They run over and grab people, ruffle their hair, mark them with grease paint sticks, throw confetti, have call and response shouts, and give out candy (and even occasional booze!). Some of the more mischievous and rowdy groups go a bit further. They might grab teenaged girls from the crowd and steal their shoes, for example- or just carry them around for a while. You could usually tell which groups would be the most intrusive depending on what they were dressed as. Fluffy Bunnies? Probably not so into tackling you. Demons with leering carved wooden tongues? Yeah, if you aren’t interested in playing, you should probably take this opportunity to hide!
About 1/3 of the way through DD decided there was just too much noise and chaos for her liking and DH took her home. That was fine with DS and me, though, because without her standing near us emitting “go away” vibes, even MORE groups came over to interact with us- which is impressive because DS was already a complete magnet for the foolishness. He stood and bravely grinned at every passing group and openly invited playfulness. I didn’t get pictures of every interaction, but it should be clear from the photos just how often he was drawn into some piece of business. It was absolutely wonderful!
And, I got my fair share of attention, too. At one point a person in a bear costume honed in on me and charged right up. I was hauled off to walk up a ramp on a slowly moving float. When I got to the top, there was a little open hut. Inside the hut was- a BAR. A Bear Bar! The attendants happily poured me a shot of… well, something, in a chocolate coated mini-ice cream cone. I gamely swallowed it and felt the happy burn all the way to my toes. Then, I carefully made my way back down the ramp and jogged a surprisingly long distance back to where DS stood waiting- just in time to see a different bear grab him! This one took him into the middle of the parade and did a little dance, then deposited him back, let me take a photo or two and handed him some candy. The whole multi-hour event was just like that.
By the end DS and I were thoroughly chilled, but surpassingly happy. If you happen to be in Bühl dorf, Offenburg for the Fastnacht Tiermaskentreffen 2014, I HIGHLY recommend it! Here are some photos of the highlights. I will have a second post that includes an overview of the costumes that were being worn.