Karneval is still alive…
…but the question is how long. The KG Treue Husaren, Mississauga (THM) still had an almost full House at their annual costume ball at the Hansa Haus in Mississauga, in stark contrast to the past when the hall was bursting at the seams and people had to be sent away.
Delegations from most of the other carnival societies had arrived, many of them in very original costumes. This was THM’s first event of the season. They did not have an official "Opening" this year. Like many of the other KGs they are cutting down on expenses – trying to make enough money to keep the group going. With most of the local carnival societies a dwindling membership has made this effort more difficult each year. Since very little has been done in the past to groom a younger generation, most of the carnival groups are in trouble. Some have already thrown in the towel. Many of them don’t maintain a guard dance group anymore. However the THM has done something right. Thanks to running a Bingo operation, for years, the THM have been able to maintain a Junior and Senior dance guard. They entertained that evening with show dances, including a solo by Jenna McQuillan as well as a solo gymnastic guest interlude performed by Marita Krumme from the KG Blau-Weiss, Oakville.
Mardi Gras Enthusiasts
George Tsvetanov – the ‘drummer’ of the Ontario Prinzengarde – entertained the guests with a rousing version of ‘Mustang Sally’. Great voice!
The Mississauga Express Band did its best to keep the place humming and the dancers on the floor. However I, and many others, missed the many "carnival" tunes that were usually played at these functions in the past and would remind the guests of the good old days.
Costumes & Parade
A great number of some very creative and innovative costumes were present but the new costumes of the KG Hansa – designed and created by Angelika Kaltz – were especially eyecatching. They appeared to be "Rococo-style" uniforms with lots of frills and three-cornered "Dreispitz" hats. Great work again, Angelika! One wonders what she is going to come up with next year.
The girls from the guard distributed little light sticks that could be bent into a circle and just fitted around a wrist. Some wore them as earrings or necklaces. It was nice to see all those lights flickering around like fireflies or glowworms.
When the M.C had finished his welcoming introduction, Sybille Forster-Rentmeister – our publisher – asked the audience for a contribution to Zoe’s operations to save her sight, as this was explained in the last issue of Echo Germanica. Many of the guests had read the story and a few trips around the hall by Sybille netted about 160 Dollars to add to the fund.
When the time came around to distribute the obligatory medals something new was added. It was a blood sausage on a string to be worn around the neck. This is a carnival tradition from Cologne, Germany. And now we prize it here in Canada.
The medal is small this year, but next year is the second anniversary (2x11years) of the THM and a bigger medal is in the offing. The date will be the 12th of November 2005.
To get back to the subject of food I should mention that the Hansa Haus kitchen provided the standard selection of good food, and great housekeeping.
One item that has been bothering me – and most of the other
carnivalists: There were 4 carnival events scheduled on the 5th
of February, 2005: London, Kitchener, Hamilton and Brampton. Since it is
customary for the groups to visit the functions of the other groups – to
offer some support and to fill the venue to pay for the band and hopefully a
little in the kitty for other expenses – the question now arises: How many
guests are they expecting to attract from other groups to fill their own
hall? You can only dance at one wedding at the same time! This is something
that needs looking into! Better planning is recommended!
Last fling at the Hansa Haus
Well, for this season anyway. The KG Hansa always schedules a costume ball for the last weekend before ‘Ash Wednesday’ – a tradition that dates way back, and hopefully well into the future – but this year was different. Last year no other carnival societies had sent any delegates. This year the KG Hansa was able to enjoy the company of members from the Treue Husaren – Toronto and Mississauga – the KG Ascendia, Hamilton, the Ontario Prinzengarde, and the president of the BDKK Armin Hellmann and his wife Marianne. The Hellmann’s left earlier in the evening to attend the Narrenzunft’s costume ball in Kitchener. And yes, the hosts all wore those new fantastic costumes again.
The famous ‘Harmonie Brass’ was the band on this occasion. The band usually draws a big crowd at any event. This evening - after a long absence – we were also able to enjoy the lovely voice of Danielle Bourre again, an unbeatable combination.
This event was reasonably successful. Over 200 tickets were sold and when the Hubertus Hunt Club joined the crowd downstairs – after their dinner in the Hansa Stube, upstairs – there were almost 300 people filling the hall.
Smiles all around
It was also refreshing to see a number of younger faces at this event. Maybe there is hope for carnival (or Mardi Gras) in Canada yet. After all it is celebrated all over the world, although best known celebrations of course come from the Rhineland – especially Cologne and Mainz. If you are in the south of Germany, "Fasching" in Munich is almost as alive as the carnival celebrations in the famous "Hochburgs". This is where I was first introduced – and bitten by the carnival bug many years ago.
The Costume Parade
There is also a whole industry catering to these celebrations in Germany. Everything you need for ‘serious’ fun!
When I was leafing through a copy of the "Deutsche Fastnacht" – a slick magazine that the BDK (Bund Deutscher Karneval) publishes twice per year, I noticed the many advertisements for things "Karneval": Boots and uniforms for the guard dancers, medals in all variations, materials to decorate the halls, fabrics, cosmetics, candy miniatures to throw to the crowds (Kamelle) at the parades, printing services for flyers, tickets etc., music tapes and CDs for the guard dances, flags for the individual societies, pyrotechnics and all sorts of suitable beverages plus various entertainers that can be booked for carnival events.
In Germany ‘Karneval’ is taken very seriously with much money flowing into the coffers of the various carnival societies from a large membership and industry sponsors. This is keeping carnival alive and growing in Germany.
But what is even more important is the fact that in Germany Karneval is watched very carefully by the movers and shakers as well. This is where politicians can be criticized with impunity during the "Büttenreden" – a type of roast – during the various events. Where industry can be taken to task about inadequacies and where these outrageous roasts are often reported in the media. This makes carnival in Germany a force to be reckoned with.
Here in Canada we are not that privileged. The best we can look forward to are 20/20 or the Air Farce on television, but throughout the year.
We have nothing like political roasts at our carnival here in Canada. Our politicians couldn’t care less about our views. There is very little support from our "movers and shakers" here. That is why I am wondering how long we can keep going.
One last word before I close this report: Unfortunately we have to mourn the passing of another one of our stalwart carnivalists. Erwin Hoyer died in Kitchener on the last day of January. He and his wife Lilli once functioned as Royal Couple, when the KG Fidelio was still in existence in Hamilton. When Fidelio folded about 13 years ago, they joined the 1 KG Narrenzunft, Concordia, as active members.
I hate to end on such an unpleasant note and can only hope that we can keep going for a while longer and that the future of carnival and Mardi Gras here in Canada is not all that bleak.
"Manöverball" is scheduled for April 16, in the Concordia Club in Kitchener and the second International Bundes Prinzenball will take place on May 14, at the Convention Centre in Hamilton.
As always, Alaaf & Helau
Comments to: email@example.com
Send mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
questions or comments about this web site.