Thursday, February 23, 2012

Karneval in Karlsruhe!

We've been very busy lately, but like everyone else in Karlsruhe, we had to take a vacation day on Tuesday.  It was Fat Tuesday, and like many cities and towns in southern Germany (which is largely Catholic and Protestant), Karlsruhe celebrates with a parade.  Not just some anemic, half-hour affair with a couple of drum and bugle corps, plus a beauty queen and decorated tricycles.  This was a two-hour parade along the city's major streets, attended by children in full costume and many others wearing at least a funny wig.  There were marching bands, and "floats" (these were trucks with partial roofs) blasting jolly German festival music.  Civic groups, many of whom must have spent the last year devising their outlandish outfits and planning entertainments for the crowds,  sauntered, rolled and marched past tossing candy, confetti, and pocket-packages of tissues.  Groups all wore pretty much identical costumes, mostly revolving around the endlessly-variable themes of fools and witches.  Here's a sample group of witches marching past us.  They were pretty scary!

Some groups relished interacting with the crowd pressing along the route.  Our tiny friend D., enthralled and taking photos in the front row, found herself captured, and lain in the group's cart while they made threatening poses for her to photograph.

Lucky for her, she wasn't seized by one of the traveling witch jails!  We were positioned fairly early along the parade route, and this one was pretty full of captives by the time it passed by us.

The street was quite a mess by the time the parade ended, between candy wrappers and confetti.  But this is Germany!  The final group in the parade were the street sweepers, who wasted no time at all but followed the marchers with trucks and leaf-blowers.

We didn't go home with bulging bags of candy as the children in attendance did, but we had our pockets full of coupons, little toys, and kleenex.  Most of our German friends are pretty tired of the "Fasching" parade and had left town beforehand, so we were glad to have our friends D. and her husband Z. (also a professor on sabbatical, but from the other university in Cambridge MA) to enjoy the occasion.  Oh!  And I got a fresh flower from one of the groups!  A good time was had by all.

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