Weather doesn’t dampen the fun at Oktoberfest in Munich
MUNICH, Germany — Hundreds of thousands of partygoers hunched together under gloomy skies and cozied up near umbrella-wielding strangers as the world’s biggest beer festival began with a fit of rain.
But as it’s taken no less than a couple of world wars, the Austro-Prussian war and two cholera outbreaks to stop the partying, this city’s 179th Oktoberfest kicked off as scheduled at noon Sept. 22 with a lucky 200,000 or so inside the Oktoberfest’s 14 cavernous tents and at least that many out in the elements, where revelers largely took the weather in stride.
“So far, the weather hasn’t seemed to slow it down much,” said Libby Johnston of Oxford, Mich., who was in a good mood despite her damp condition. “You can’t get into a beer tent. There are still lines, and everybody’s enjoying themselves despite the weather.”
Johnston, who was here on business and stayed for Oktoberfest, comforted herself with a glass of wine, which wasn’t exactly what she came for, but all she could get her hands on without having to wait in the mob scenes outside the beer tents.
“Since I’m at Oktoberfest, I expected a beer,” she said laughing. “I will not leave disappointed. I will have a beer before I leave.”
Legions of women in colorful dirndls and men in lederhosen and checked shirts were streaming into the Theresienwiese, where the Oktoberfest is held, at 8 a.m. By then, lines for the Oktoberfest’s tents, run by some of the city’s most renowned brewers, were already thousands deep with true early birds.
Timo Rumpelt, a 20-year-old local, who, with 16 Oktoberfests under his belt is an old hand, was among those lucky enough to get in when the doors opened about 9 a.m.
“It’s just every year the same — it’s just amazing,” he said, sitting at a table inside the Pschorr Braeurosl’s ribbon-decked tent with a half-dozen friends.
From the mood inside, no one would have known that thousands more huddled outside were trying to get in. As those outside peered longingly in through the tent’s doors, the mostly German crowd inside the Pschorr Braeurosl primed themselves for hours with bottles of the tent’s namesake brew, basket after basket of pretzels and coffee-table-sized trays of sausage before the official party even kicked off.
Oblivious to the crowd outside and with the brassy harmonies of a German band blaring over shouted conversations, Rumpelt said, “You don’t get this feeling anywhere else in the world.”
U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Ginestra — he wouldn’t give his first name in order to “keep myself as anonymous as possible” — was in Germany on a 30-day training mission and said he came “to say that I attended Oktoberfest, take a couple pictures and have a beer — and that was about it.”
So far, I’m getting soaked,” Ginestra said. “I’m honestly thinking about leaving.”
That wasn’t an option for Nicole Massood of Cape May, N.J., Marie Lobosco of Minneola, N.Y., or James Mele of Westbury, N.Y. — college students studying abroad in Rome.
“From the summer, this is the first trip we planned,” said Mele, who with his friends managed to get into the Hofbraeu-Festzelt tent after a short soak in the Munich rain.
“We were amped on it, but the weather is kind of putting a damper on it,” Lobosco said, swaddled in a dark blue sweatshirt she’d just spent upwards of $50 on to shield herself from the cold.
“Altogether, the weather tried to ruin it, but we pushed through, we’re at a table, we got it,” Mele chimed in.
“They were ready for us,” said Massood. “They looked at us, they were like, ‘Drink. Drink, drink, drink, drink, drink. Eat, drink, eat, eat, eat, and have a great time.’ ”