Well, well, well. Look who the carousel threw up. 🙂
Today was the Rosenmontag Karneval in Bonn. Although Karneval is celebrated madly in Germany as a whole (like any legally delineated time frame for public debauchery, drunkenness, dressing up in mad outfits, and drowning yourself in sugary treats would/should be), the North Rhine area takes a special fondness to being as certifiably loony as they can be, this time of the year. And naturally, there I was.
A friend of mine lives directly in the path of the Karneval parade. Since I’d missed it last year (and heard it being mentioned as an event of somewhat mythical proportions all year long), I put on my green sequinned hat (think a North Korean general on RuPaul’s drag race) and got myself an overpriced matching bag to boot. Then we parked ourselves on her window ledge, and spent four hours bellowing KAMELLE! at the floats going past.
And what floats there were! Admittedly, they aren’t anything to the scale of the NYC parade monstrosities, but there is a certain class and charm to things here. Marching band after marching went by in admirably matching outfits, loudly clanging brass bands and baton and flag twirlers, ever so often. Every ear-splitting scream aimed in their direction was answered by fistfuls of candy thrown in our direction. There was one extreeeemely retro moment, too, when an elderly ‘officer’ left the main stream and crossed over to where our friend, a dashing, beautiful pirate with a dashing, beautiful pirate duck strapped onto her head, was waving her plasterboard scimitar around. He dropped three bags of candy on her, and tapped his cheek for a kiss in return. She planted one on him, and dumped the booty in our pirate chest/crate (that we filled to the brim at least thrice. And also spilled stray beer over. At least thrice. Eh.)
The afternoon vanished in a rush of faces and floats. Ships went by, trucks went by. Tractors lugged massive wagons behind them, as did absolutely gorgeous Clydesdale horses, looking far more magnificent as they did, naturally. The booty consisted vastly of candy, candy, candy, but there were also gummy animals of every species, cookies, soft cakes, notepads and magnets, rubber ducks shaped with Beethoven’s head on them, stress balls, rubber balls, little pouches, a tulip float that handed out tulips (oo la laaa), and a singularly impressive procession of witches and vampires, that tossed out monster eye marshmallows from a gigantic cauldron.
During this entire time, I succumbed willingly to my Kryptonite- lollipops. The first wave had tossed a few in the window, and I decided to let myself a go a little. It led to an interesting moment later, when a man float going by yelled at me to take the lollipop out. I was completely sure I’d misheard the bizarre request, so I took it out and shouted back at him, ‘Why??’ To which I received a packet of soft cakes thrown at me, before the float went out of sight. Go figure.
Things were pretty wild west in there, though. Some people handed things to you, others slung in your direction with throws that would do Clayton Kershaw proud. Bees handed out honey-flavored chews, a field of sunflowers on legs went by and threw us sunflower seeds (little seed packets, with flowers painted on them!) and every manner of glucose fueled goodies, till my afternoon halted abruptly- I took a candy bar to the eye.
And that. shit. HURT. I was waving at someone to my right when a bar flew in from the left somewhere and caught me smack bang in my wide open left eye. I had a few moments of blinding pain and my eye felt like it was going to explode out of my head. I spent a good 2-3 minutes doubled over completely shell-shocked and clutching my eye, going ‘my eye, my eye’ repeatedly. Then I hurried to the kitchen and my friend handed me a cold beer to hold against it. And let me tell you, alcohol *does* numb the pain.
A little while later, we headed out through the body of the parade. The only clear way out was to walk between the successive floats, and it was glorious. People were dancing on the sidewalks and occasionally spilling out onto the street. I saw a group of ballerinas hanging out a second-storey window, with MacGyvered upside down Umbrella candy catchers. 4-5 girls dancing in a circle dressed up as milk cartons, which I could not stop laughing about, and a severely impressive Renley Baratheon and company, who I deeply regret not taking pictures with.
Anyhoo, two days of sleeping off the alcohol poisoning from later that night and a bruised eye later, the Karneval has come to a close. I finally had the chance to witness a nationwide descent into madness, and added my own humble, licorice-flavored vodka insult to the liver contribution at the end. And although the binge cost me a day spent recovering in bed, I would not have missed it for the world. Dressed as a black cat and elbow deep in gummy bear treats (with a kick) is the only socially acceptable way to say goodbye and good riddance to the Karneval. So naturally, that’s what I did. When in Germany, do as the Germans do. 😉