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December, 2004 - Nr. 13


High-Tech Tree
The Editor
Season's Greetings
Reason for the Season
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Verschneites Land
Alle Jahre wieder...
Toronto Connection
Zurich Connection
From The Locker Room
Ottawa Valley Christmas
K-W & Beyond
Opera York Expands...
K-W Christkindl Market
Dick reports...
Sybille reports
Ham Se det jehört?
Santa House Calls
Bach's Manuscripts Disappear
Hospital in Germany

K-W Christkindl Markt

by Herwig Wandschneider

Herwig WandschneiderWhenever you read the commentary, or listen to people who have been there, the opinion always is: the Kitchener Christkindl Market is the best. Just spend an early evening at the time of the official opening ceremonies on Thursday night, when the candle procession with Maria and Joseph with two donkeys and hundreds of children and aNative Scene - livedults with lanterns leave Victoria Park and head for Kitchener’s City Hall. Once there, the official opening ceremonies begin, enjoy the interaction between Knecht Ruprecht on the stage and the angels on the balcony, then upon the angel’s command the lights on the huge Christmas Tree suddenly turn on.

All Christmassy


Visit for an hour, an afternoon or an entire day thereafter, and you would have to agree. It is an event with an atmosphere, which puts you into the Christmas spirit. Not the rat-race commercial kind, but the emotional and reflective kind. Sure, there are vendors, some 60 to 70, offering mostly hand-made Christmas items, or food to keep you warm and happy. It is all held in such enjoyable framework and with so much pre-Christmas live entertainment, that it transports young and old visitors alike into an era of peace and joy.

Packed to capacityThe crowd is spread between the inside vendors (and activities) and the outside food booths and on-stage entertainment. There is also a working blacksmith outside, even a post office, from where mail can be sent directly from the Christkindl Market with special stamps to all over the world. Give it a solid rain aHot, please!nd a good number of people head for the warm and dry interior, making it a challenge to get around inside. But still, many people remain outside and watch the choirs or musicians from under umbrellas. Inside there is the model rHot businessailway to admire, a puppet show, German-language movies in the council chambers for those, who would like to relax for a while, or you can watch the Children’s faces as they admire thThe organ grindere Organ Grinder.

The Szauter Family - traditional part of Kitchener's Christkindl MarketNo advertising clutter, plenty of seasonal decorations, donkeys and Maria and Joseph in the corner, a stage bursting at the seams with junior to senior choirs, – not to speak of the 300 strong K-W Philharmonic Choir – Bellringers, voice and instrumentaAlways entertaining - the "Schuhplattler"l soloists, Forget-Me-Nots, Schuhplattlers, Brass Bands, etc and all that free to all. No wonder they come from all over Ontario, from Quebec and the USA to partake in the joy.

Mr. Schade with Ursel KampmannVisitors have absolutely no idea of what goes into making this event happen. Nor should they. "There should be no mundane thoughts in visitors’ mind that might distract from the spirit of Schmidt, Schmidt & Schmidtthe season" explains Tony Bergmeier, the founder of the K-W Christkindl Market. Visitors should..."discover the Christkindl tradition and (to) let the fellowship of the season and the fun of the festival capture (their) spirit".

Toni Bergmeier hands 1st prize to winner Ann Zaba  [photo: Peter Schoepke]But organizing the event is a year-round task. "We start very early in the year, right after Christmas to plan the next event. Sponsors have to be in place by the end of April. And hopefully Kitchener City Hall space will be made available again! Entertainment has to be selected and scheduled, booths have to be maintained and spruced up, advertising and promotion – TV, Radio, Newspaper and brochures - has to be organized. (The top prize this year was a trip for two to Berlin, Germany on Lufthansa, and includes 2 days at the Schweizer Hof, and 5-day RailEurope passes, 2nd prize a Miele Dishwasher and 3rd prize a Miele Vacuum Cleaner !) Fortunately there is a waiting list for vendors, but they still have to be chosen for their compatibility and their offerings".

All the active year-round work is done by a handful of volunteers. The bulk of volunteers is required just prior to and during the event. But even picking up the donkeys, feeding and maintaining their abode in City Hall requires the attention of management. Decorations, setting up the Christmas Tree, Kinderecke with all its handicraft ideas, Kaffee Stube, Candles for the procession, police to control traffic, the list has no end and spans the entire range from finance to worry about the well-being of the pregnant donkey (fortunately the pregnancy is not an annual event).

Throughout the 5-day event, Tony Bergmeier and committee members are seen keeping things organized and troubleshooting problem areas with seemingly limitless hands-on energy. Clearly what a festival such as this needs, is such limitless spirited and energetic leadership. And that is how the K-W Christkindl Market has succeeded over the years to get better and better, and draw more and more people, vendors, and performers.


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