“Yeah, sure, absolutely.”
Cut to massive amounts of screaming children, men and women, and copious amounts of tossed candy.
“Yes, Kyle, umm… maybe you want to throw a little less candy.”
“Uh huh (cheer, cheer, throw, throw).”
Finally he approached. “Here we would like you to carry this sign.”
Back in December, I met a friend of Helga’s who was a bigwig in a local political party (the Social Democrats – better than the Christian Democrats, but not as cool as the Greens from what I understand). As she waxed poetic about Karneval season and the excitement that spreads throughout the town, I floated the idea that it would be really great to march in their parade. Three months later, I got the invitation from the local chapter of the Social Democrats.
Kessenich is home to the Haribo candy company (HAns RIegel – BOnn, get it?) and the Karneval parade here is renowned for the staggering amount of candy thrown. Parents and children line the road in random costumes with little rhyme or reason. The most popular seems to be any iteration of full-body furry costumes, owing more to the springtime chills that dominate Germany in March than any sort of kinky fetish fascination.
The parade goes on for an hour or two and the average person walks away with roughly 3 kilograms of sugar in its many-splendored forms. Special edition Karneval gummis straight from the Haribo factory fly from outstretched hands to the eager throngs. Old women in old costumes elbow small children out of the way as they struggle to get their fix. The competition is cut throat, but tinged with a strange dignified restraint.
Our float was a wagon pulled and pushed by a small group of five and followed by a crew of ten. We each chipped in 25 Euros to pay for the motherload of treats. I felt tricked by the preponderance of tissue packets mixed in with our candy. But I quickly discovered that people don’t care what you throw, just as long as you throw something.
My relegation to sign-carrier was a relief of sorts. By that time we were starting to run out of candy and I was feeling increasing pressure to throw more though there was none. The sign gave me an excuse, even though I had no idea what it said. Something about some sort of dissatisfaction with the road conditions in our community.