Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Ein Prosit!

Dear Delilah,

The town we live in has a huge Oktoberfest celebration every year. It usually starts the last weekend in September and runs into the first weekend of October. By some estimates, our local Oktoberfest celebration is the biggest in the US! You have plenty of German heritage on both sides, but even if you didn't, this is one festival that nearly everyone in town celebrates in one way or another. This year was your second Oktoberfest experience, and the year between them (not to mention the location of our new home) made a world of difference in your enjoyment of the festivities.

Oktoberfest 2010-Delilah looks a little overwhelmed by all of the excitement!
On the first Saturday of Oktoberfest, there is a huge parade that practically shuts down half of the city. It's three hours long and is filled with marching bands, beautiful floats, costumes, music, dancers, various political and charitable causes, local businesses, and more. Last year, you weren't quite old enough to truly appreciate the parade and all of the sights and sounds that go along with it. You weren't walking yet, but did enjoy traveling snuggled up close to me in the Beco and watching some of the parade from atop your daddy's shoulders.

Our new home is within easy walking distance of the parade route, so this year, we set out on foot with you on my back to make our way towards the celebration. The walk there took us through several blocks of floats lined up, waiting to start the parade, and you had fun pointing out trucks, dogs, and various other things you were able to identify with your growing vocabulary.
Making our way to the parade-2011
Many local residents (and even out-of-towners) plan for months in advance where they will watch the parade from. The day before, tarps, blankets, chairs, and even huge flatbed trailers start lining the parade route while people stake out prime parade-watching real estate. We're a bit more casual about it, the extent of our "plan" was to walk the parade route, stopping here and there as we saw people we knew. We ran into some friends who found a great spot that had been abandoned, so we sat and watched the parade with them for a while before heading back towards home so you could rest your progressively heavier eyelids.

This year, you were enthralled with everything happening around you. You clapped your hands along with the music, watched in awe as people in extravagant costumes passed, and waved and said hi to people passing through the crowd. I was thankful that I convinced your father that the Beco was a better idea than a stroller, since maneuvering it through the crowd would have been a challenge, and it would have been something extra to keep track of while you were on your own two feet. I got lots of positive comments about it, ranging from "I love your baby backpack!" to "I need one of those!" to "Hey, can you carry ME in that thing?"

After your nap, we had some friends over to the house for an impromptu gathering. We grilled food, and the adults chatted and sipped drinks while you and the other kids ran around and played. After you went to bed, we enjoyed a fire in the backyard with the friends who remained.

But wait! There's more! That was not the end of our Oktoberfest fun for the year. There is another parade that takes place toward the end of the festival, one that our new location dictates we make a tradition! On Thursday night of Oktoberfest, the Torchlight Parade lights up the dark autumn sky. Our home is two blocks off the parade route, and we were surprised to discover that the parade lines up right in front of our house! I had to miss most of the fun, since I had class that evening, but you and your daddy had loads of fun.

Watching floats line up on our block!
While waiting for the parade to start, you and Daddy watched the floats lining up on our street. He tells me that you sat on our front step, yelling "Hi!" and blowing kisses to everyone going by. When the parade got going, he put you in the stroller and took the short walk to the parade route, letting you stay up a little past your bedtime to enjoy all of the action.

Even after he brought you back home and got you into your pajamas, he couldn't tear you away from the front window and all the excitement outside.

We are already looking forward to next year's Oktoberfest, and all of the fun with friends and family that comes along with it. Now that we know we're in prime location for a Torchlight parade party, we see a fun new tradition in our future!



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