***image1***Fasching, also known as “the fifth season” is reaching its peak from Saturday through Shrove Tuesday and ending Ash Wednesday.
The highlight in Ramstein-Miesenbach is the big parade with floats, walking groups and music bands starting at 2:11 p.m. Tuesday.
“Depending on the weather, we are expecting 30,000 to 50,000 spectators,” said Manfred Küster from the Bruchkatze parade committee. “Our parade is the biggest in the Westpfalz.”
At noon Tuesday, the center of Ramstein-Miesenbach closes to motorized vehicles. The almost two-hour long parade starts on Stutzenflur and August-Süssdorf-Strasse and goes through Bahnhof-, Landstuhler- Kindsbacher-, Max-, Jahn-, Siedlungs- and Lilienstrasse back to the beginning. It features 30 floats, and a total of about 40 walking groups, 14 carnival associations and eight music bands. More than 2,000 people participate in the parade.
The American community is represented by the U.S. Air Forces in Europe Band, Ramstein Girl Scout Troop, Sembach Middle School Marching Tiger Pride, Ramstein Youth Cheerleaders and other individual walking groups.
About 30 button vendors are out on the street to sell parade buttons for 2 EUR. The buttons also serve as entrance tickets to the Haus des Bürgers, where a Fasching party with music and dancing takes place after the parade.
Food and beverage booths are placed throughout the 3.25 kilometer route. A Fasching carnival, with a merry-go-round and activity booths, is set up on Marktplatz from Sunday through Tuesday.
In the main Fasching cities such as Mainz, Köln and Düsseldorf, the parades take place Rose Monday. They start at 11:11 a.m. and end between 4 and 5 p.m. Participants in vehicles and floats toss candy, pretzels and sometimes they give out drinks. These most famous parades are also televised.
The German railroad company Deutsche Bahn has trains going from Kaiserslautern to Mainz on an hourly basis. Passengers need to change trains in Bad Kreuznach. The Rheinland-Pfalz ticket for up to five persons costs 21 EUR (round trip). For more information, call the travel center Kaiserslautern at 0631-3232310.
Other parades in the Pfalz are the ones in Frankenthal starting at 2:11 p.m. Saturday and in Ludwigshafen, Dahn, Rodalben, Weisenheim/Sand and Wachenheim along the German Wine Street beginning at 1:11 p.m. Sunday. Competing with the Ramstein parade is the one in Zweibrücken starting at 2:11 p.m. Tuesday.
Throughout the KMC, carnival associations, sports clubs and gasthouses sponsor Fasching sessions, masquerade balls and dances Saturday night, Rose Monday and Fasching Tuesday.
Customarily at Fasching dances, women ask men for a dance and men are not supposed to reject the offer. Women are also authorized to cut in on dances by clapping their hands and “stealing” the man from the woman he is dancing with for the rest of the dance.
In many towns and villages, Sunday and Shrove Tuesday are the days when Fasching parties are offered for children.
The Kaiserslautern carnival association, KVK, starts “Street Fasching” at 2:11 p.m. Tuesday. KVK members sing, dance and hold funny speeches on a stage near Stiftskirche.
Throughout Germany, stores, banks and offices close at either 1 or 2 p.m. to give employees the chance to enjoy Fastnacht Tuesday activities.
Ash Wednesday will end the crazy season. Carnival association members and party-goers meet one more time for their traditional “Heringsessen,” the eating of herring. Also on Ash Wednesday, Lent, a 40-day fasting period for Roman Catholics starts.