Vibrant colors, extravagant costumes, marching bands and endless parades and pagentry are common not only in a circus, but also during Carnaval. For this reason, we decided to make this year's Carnaval circus-themed, when thinking about our costumes. It's hard to believe that this is our 6th season of Carnaval/Fasching, and yet we still do not fully understand all the inside jokes, traditions and nuances surrounding this wacky festival. For many Limburgers, it is the most important and special time of year as months of work go into the costumes, parades and party-planning revolving around this holiday leading up to Ash Wednesday.
|Marching Band in the Sittard Markt|
We began Carnaval weekend by attending a village parade in Germany with friends Friday night. We had a spectacular time watching the mostly teenage-run floats, pulled by tractors, roll through the village, each with a different theme. Some of our friends took part in the circus-themed extravaganza and came dressed as various animals (lions, elephants, tigers), which allowed my costume to be more authentic as I was a lion tamer/ring mistress.
|A Whip-less Lion Tamer|
Jon had aspirations to be a circus stuntman and saw this as an excuse to finally buy an Evel Knievel costume. He enjoyed performing "stunts" throughout the weekend.
|Jon, I mean Evel, and his co-worker, Arnie|
On Sunday, we gathered a large group of friends together to take part in Sittard's Grote Optocht (large parade). We had so much fun with our group last year, and we wanted to re-create this day with even more people.
|Jeff as the Ring Master - quite a job with this circus crew!|
|Group of Circus Ladies|
In addition to friends, we also had Neil, Emily, Sybil, Shannon and Cassie come up from Ramstein for the weekend to experience Carnaval. They managed to pull costumes together in a day and looked fantastic as an organ-grinder, dancing monkey, fortune-teller, lion and tiger. We feel so blessed to have them close by and to be able to share these special and unique experiences with over the next year.
|The Clough Family Circus|
|The Lion Tamer with Shannon and Cassie|
This was an especially unique Carnaval for Jon as he was asked by our neighbors to be in the parade with their group. They urgently needed an additional person at the last minute, as someone in their group got sick. He was so honored to be asked to be a part of this highly selective event and jumped at the opportunity. Although we weren't able to hang out with him during the parade-viewing, his missed presence was worth it when we finally saw him in the parade line-up, leading his group with the enthusiasm only Jon can muster.
|Jon and the 'Marotte Sirk' group, with three monkeys|
Apparently I'm not the only one who thinks Jon's smile is fantastically contagious, because he was one of 12 photos featured on the online newspaper the next day.
|Photo featured in the online Limburgs Dagblad|
During the three hours of parade-viewing, we saw sunny weather turn cloudy, start snowing, turn to rain and eventually stop and get cloudy again. It was the most bizarre afternoon, but it separated the hard core Carnaval-goers from the fair-weather Carnaval-goers.
Not long after Jon's group passed by, we moved our party posse from our street-viewing location to the market square where the parade ended. Eventually, we met up with Jon and visited our favorite (and packed) local bar before calling it a day and heading back to the house. Here, the party continued on with burgers, snacks and dancing before the circus finally disbanded.
On Monday, we woke to gorgeous sunny skies and spent most of the day outside with the girls. That afternoon we threw on silly hats to view our neighborhood parade that goes right in front of our house. It's not much of a parade, consisting of only about 10 cars/floats, but there was a band and candy, so the girls seemed happy.
It was yet another, fantastic Carnaval season and it's hard to believe that next year will be our last. I'm not sure how we'll top the Carnaval Circus, but I have no doubt we'll try!