Americans get into Germany’s wacky Fasching spirit
By JENNIFER H. SVAN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: February 13, 2018
RAMSTEIN-MIESENBACH, Germany — Americans living in the Kaiserslautern area didn’t have to go far Tuesday to experience the crazy side of German culture during Fasching.
Ramstein-Miesenbach threw its 67th annual Fasching parade, capping what’s known as carnival season in Germany with a grand display of elaborate floats, marching bands and costumed revelers.
The parade, sponsored by the Bruchkatze Carnival Association, is the biggest in the Westpfalz area, with about 1,000 participants.
Americans in the crowds that lined the streets of the village outside of Ramstein Air Base said they came for the unique German experience.
“We just want to do what the locals do,” said Army spouse Jen Crawford, who was at the parade with friends and their children, wearing a green and blue wig. “We try to get out and do whatever we can. Where else can you dress up in wacky costumes?”
And there was plenty of wacky. Jesters with painted faces danced in the streets throwing candy and spinning noise makers; marching bands were, curiously, dressed in ponchos and sombreros. One group, presumably a garden club, wore watering cans upside down on their heads, with a space cut out for their faces. The “Bike for Peace and New Energies Kaiserslautern” group rode funny bikes, tooted horns and included someone wearing a Donald Trump mask.
Will McKee, 12, an American kid who was using his day off from school wisely, fit right in wearing a pink Whoopie cushion costume ordered from Target. His sister, Kayla, 8, dressed as a cat. The McKees and their friends, who staked out a place curbside, didn’t hesitate in stating their goals for the parade: “The candy!”
Candy and confetti rained down throughout the hour-long spectacle. “Candy landed on my head,” said one boy dressed as Batman.
There were flying bags of popcorn, and for the adults, samples of a drink that tasted like a Baileys milkshake. Groups pulled beer wagons, beverages that surely helped with the dancing and singing to songs like the “Macarena” before thousands of strangers.
Also raining down were Fasching greetings of “Ralau!, Helau!” and something that sounded like “Hi-Hopp!”
Among the U.S. parade participants were the Ramstein Fire Department, the Roller Girls of the Apocalypse and the U.S. Air Forces in Europe band.