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In February 1993 we spent a few days with friends in the southern German town of Rottweil on the edge of the Black Forest (Rottweil is famous for the dog breed of the same name). The beginning of Lent is celebrated in Germany a lot like its celebrated in New Orleans; Mardi Gras style. Over there its called Fasching. Lots of cities and towns have parades and all kinds of celebrations all through the weeks leading up to Ash Wednesday. The Rottweil Fasching parade is called the Narrensprung, or Fool's Jump, and its unique. It's named after the little hop-step that the marchers use to make the bells they wear ring loudly. Some of the bell sets weigh over 50 pounds! With hundreds of marchers wearing bells and hopping, the sound is incredible!

The Crew Watching the Parade
Clowns and Jesters Lead The Parade

The parade in Rottweil starts early (around 7am) so the three families booked a bunch of rooms in a gasthof in Rottweil and drove down the night before so we would be ready in the morning. We ate at a chinese restaurant in town the night before, and went to bed early to prepare for the early rise. It had been snowing all day so the drive to the restaurant and back was an adventure, to say the least!

There are only seven types of masks and costumes used in the Narrensprung, although there are thousands of marchers. The first part of the parade has brass bands and clowns carrying feather dusters. They skip along tickling people and trying to steal hats. After that comes the Fasching marchers in the costumes, thousands and thousands of them. I got some great video of them, and the video has the sound as well as the sight. These photos don't do the full experience justice!

A Narrensprung Masked Marcher
Narrensprung Masked Marchers

After the Narrensprung was finished, we drove to nearby Schramberg, where comical boat races were held down the river that runs through the center of town. Pretty strange to see these home-made things that are supposed to float go shooting down the culvert-style river that passes through the town below street level. People stand on the bridges and sides of the street and look down into the man-made canyon that the river flows through, as the boats come careening down the river, smashing into the walls and breaking apart. A net at the end catches the pieces of boats (and people) so they don't go over the waterfall.

Watching the Boat Rases in Schramberg



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