Royalty in Hamilton
This was the second time in this century that a "Carnival" or "Mardi Gras" event of this nature was held in Ontario – outside of the regular annual season from the 11th of November to Ash Wednesday in February.
It was such a huge success last year in Burlington, that it prompted the directors of the BDKK (Bund Deutscher Karneval in Kanada) to repeat it. About 60 Royals (past and present) from as far away a Sarnia and Detroit and about 300 guests – including members of the local government and media - followed the invitation to attend.
The venue chosen – the Hamilton Convention Centre - was ideal for an event of this magnitude. And it was a magnificent affair! Colorful doesn’t adequately describe it. The many flamboyant uniforms, the many hats – or "Narrenkappen" as they are called - with the huge long pheasant feathers or the cluster of peacock feathers on the "Farmers" hat of the "Dreigestirn" from the Treue Husaren, Toronto, carnival society.
The K.G. Treue Husaren, Toronto, at an event held at the old Harmonie Club, first presented this (all male) "Triumvirate" in Toronto. It consists of a Prince, a Jungfrau (Virgin) and a Farmer, complete with flail, and also originated – as did most of the traditions of carnival – in the German Rhineland, around Cologne, Mainz and Düsseldorf.
It is almost impossible to describe the wonderful and flamboyant uniforms of the "Royals" – the princes and princesses. Tailored to perfection and still fitting they are a wonderful sight to behold. Not two of them were the same but all were elegant and beautiful with lots of gold trim and colourful capes, often matching the colors of their own carnival society.
The "Royals" were slated to sit in three tiers on an elevated platform at one end of the huge hall and 30 tables, spaced around the dance floor, provided seating for the guests.
After Albert Kergl – MC and chairman for this event – greeted the guests, the assembled "Royals" marched into the hall – after a short and relaxing period in the "Hospitality Room" - to take their seats. The accompanying music was an old and appropriate carnival song from Cologne "Einmal Prinz zu sein". Then the guests greeted the Royals with "Ein Prosit der Gemütlichkeit".
After Albert introduced the honorary visitors from the media and government, a delicious dinner was served: chef salad, slices of pork and beef, string beans, home fries and a delectable cake for desert.
Then came the official part of the evening – the presentation of the expressly designed medals to the royal guests. As their names, affiliations and ‘reigning’ periods were called out, Armin Hellmann and Dieter Brocker placed the medals around the necks of the royal guests. This was a joyous occasion for most of them and the honour was gratefully and excitedly accepted.
The Medal Round
Next on the agenda was Armin Hellmann, president of the BDKK. After his welcoming address, he awarded medals to each of the committee members. This is always a solemn – albeit joyous – occasion and an important part of the Mardi Gras experience.
The Chairman, Albert Kergl, then also presented the medal to Armin Hellmann.
The Royal Couples were then invited to launch the first dance, to the accompaniment of the Harmonie Brass Show Band, and were joined by the audience for two more dances.
The "Harmonie Brass", by the way, originated as "Fanfarenkorps" with the G.K.G. Harmonie – way back when. They still are one of the best choices for carnival affairs – especially big ones.
This was followed by the long awaited performance of the 1.K.G. Narragonia, Brantford’s Senior Funkengarde. The routine of this price-winning group of dedicated dancers did not disappoint. It was flawlessly executed, as usual.
After the announcement of the monetary donations by some of the carnival societies’ members, the MC introduced the "Tomato Soup Band", a group of Dutch Musical Clowns, who brilliantly entertained and reminded us a bit of the well-known Swiss "Guggenmusik".
This was followed by general dancing until the performance by comedian Ben Guyatt, owner of the Club 54 – the well-known Comedy Club – in Hamilton. This was another one of the many highlights this evening, performed by an expert in the area of comedy.
Door prizes included gift baskets by Denninger’s Foods of the World, the famous "Holzofenbrot" by the Dimpflmeier Bakery, and more.
General dancing then continued for the balance of the evening, that was over much too soon for many of the revellers.
Alaaf, Helau and Ahoy
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