The parade was AWESOME!!! I LOVED it!!! I loved it so much I stood in the rain watching it for the entire two and a half hours.
Yes, it was raining… but the crowds who came out were pretty happy with their hoods and umbrellas. I was standing next to a family from England (I never spoke with them though) and a couple of very friendly middle-aged German men who were really into it, waving and clapping.
So I have a LOT of pictures to post. It’s still only a fraction of what I took — and what I took is only about one third of the parade, because my camera battery went out after less than an hour (but I squeezed a few more out of it later in the parade). Maybe they’ll start to all look the same, but don’t worry, my terribly interesting commentary will keep you glued to the screen.
This stern young policeman was stationed in front of me almost the whole time… the only time he broke a smile was when one of the ladies in the parade, with rain-soaked hair, stole his hat as she marched by, and put it on. He had to trot down the street after her to get it back, and it was pretty funny.
As you can see, I got a nice spot right across from the Residenz…
I didn’t get a very good shot of the mascot of Munich, the Münchner Kindl, that monk in black and yellow that they have on their coat of arms. Over the centuries the monk sort of drifted into a “young child” and nowadays he is always represented by a young woman. But she was on a big horse. A BIG HORSE. Bigger than the others that went by carrying carts, and you will see how big they were in a second.
Every group had people at the front carrying their name and coat of arms or emblem, and usually their flag. Some groups were marching bands, and some were just representing their region by walking in the parade. All of them wore the traditional costume of their village or province.
Aaand here comes the rest:
Poor little boys getting rained on.
Jesters! A bit later on in the parade, these jesters in bright-colored stripes came running down the street, and when they saw children watching along the sidewalk, they ran up and wiped black soot on their noses and ran off again. The British kids next to me were so confused! It was cute.
I love these old guys.
I took lots of pictures of the little kids all dressed up.
There were several floats – really wagons – with beer kegs, representing the various local breweries. This one is for the Hofbrauhaus.
Just LOOK at the size of those horses.
And there were other cool floats, too, like this one with a little model village…
Then there were two different floats showing just a bed, with different accessories and stuff? What in the world.
There are not only Bavarian Germans at the parade, but also Austrians, Swiss, Italians, Croatians, and Poles. These outfits look eastern European to me. That said, I have no idea where they really come from, and I only managed to recognize a few names of places as they went by. (Aha! In fact, Wikipedia tells me these women are actually from Schaumburg in Lower Saxony.)
The marching bands were so cool! These look like Revolutionary War soldiers. Which reminds me that most of these traditional outfits, (the ones particular to certain regions) only came into being in the 18th and 19th centuries, and sometimes (I’d bet) the 20th. Read more here (using some kind of web translator, or just looking at the pictures).
I really like those wool coats that guy is wearing.
All these kids make me very envious…
For some reason most of my good pictures were of the drummers. But they were marching with full brass bands, and sometimes with:
Those Alp-trumpet things from the Ricola commercials! Though they didn’t play them.
Seriously, that horse is big.
These guys were cool.
And, close to the end, the people representing Munich.
OKAY, now, are you ready for one of my favorite parts???
What is that? Oh it’s a MOUNTAIN GOAT. This is the Jagdverband Bayern – the hunters!
And a big deer.
And a wild boar.
And HAWKS! You can read an interesting article about hunting and hunting culture in Germany here.
Unfortunately, because I was dumb and used up my camera at the beginning, I don’t have pictures of my other favorite parts: the whip-crackers, the flag-throwers, the “king’s hunters” dressed all in bright multicolored medieval-style costumes and carrying crossbows.
Still, it was a really fun time, and everybody there was excited enough to be willing to stand in the rain for hours and watch the parade. It was an interesting, subdued excitement, very northern or at least non-Mediterranean. I heard a lot of this kind of high yodel-yelp. It isn’t singing, but it’s this happy shout that starts in the falsetto/yodeling register and then gets lower. (It’s the sound a cartoon makes while falling off a cliff.) But it sounds really excited and happy and every time somebody did it, someone else responded, and a lot of people laughed. And it was actually nice that I had to stop taking pictures, because that meant I could take more time to wave and smile and make eye contact with the marchers, who were still in pretty good shape (since I was watching within the first third of the parade – I knew by the end they’d be more tired and wet).
All in all: Yay Oktoberfest! I love the louder and wilder atmosphere here in the city and I can’t wait to go walk through the Wiesn later this week.