We stayed in a small German village for Karneval in an old house on the main road. Gillrath was celebrating with its first parade in 30 years.
The street was lined on both sides with locals of all ages almost entirely in costume. Even onlookers dress up here, so we dressed up as well. I wore my favorite pink wig and a 70’s style satin dress. My husband was a pirate.
Cold in February, we kept our front door closed, but had hot chocolate ready and our front window unlocked leading to the dining room. Only two feet from the sidewalk it opened inward like a door. People hopped in and out getting cocoa and using our bathroom, friends and perfect strangers too.
The parade began with a big green John Deere tractor loaded up with confetti and balloons. Groups followed wearing matching costumes. A cooking group handed out Vienna sausages on toothpicks. One chef gave our elderly neighbor a head of cabbage. Everybody laughed.
Kids held umbrellas upside down to catch the candy thrown our way. One was pelted with a boxed smoothie drink. I watched for the adults holding small plastic shot glasses in one hand and a bottle tucked under one arm. It was common to see people passing out candy to kids and booze to adults.
A large chicken came up with something caramel colored. There was no label, but I got a shot from a chicken. It tasted like Bailey’s.