Monday, June 27, 2011

The parade of '50' year olds ... arriving in Schwaebisch Gmuend the sister city of Bethlehem, PA

Voila !! This is me walking in the parade of '50 year olds' in beautiful Schwaebisch Gmuend (S.G.), Germany. Every year, and for over a hundred years, this parade takes place in the summertime in S.G. It starts on the second Saturday of June with the parade of 40 years olds, then the next saturday, the 50 year olds ... and so on until the 80 year olds.

It begins at 7:00 a.m. Cannon blasts. Three of them. My friend Michael picks me up in his ever so cool Porsche !!!! And ... even opens the door for me ... Then, we drive to the fire station where Champagne, pink champagne, (soft) pretzels and wonderful German breads await us. Lot's of hugging and kissing and merryment !!!! We start to receive roses and carts that pull roses and balloons and decorated umbrellas ... it's really fantastic and SOOO much fun !!! You can't believe it !!

So then after a couple glasses of champagne ... the parade begins. There is a walking order and I am inbetween Reinhard and Jurgen. The three of us in tuxedos (thank you CE Roth on Turner St. in Allentown, PA - I LOVED wearing it !!!). The bands begin to play, there is a train for all of the children and the people looking after them ... and we walk through the crowds receiving hugs and roses - pretty fabulous eh ??

Then we all enter the 'Muenster Cathedral' ... it's from the 1200s ... and large and fabulous !!!!! Men in red and white attire play 'Purcell' on their horns on the alter ... then the massive organ begins ... and then the choir. Overwhelming for sure ! Catholic Mass in German ... with pipe organ and choir and trumpets ... it was one of those moments in life that you think ... oh my gosh ... please take all this in ... for one day you will try to imagine that you are back here ... and then, Mass has come to an end and you exit the church ... more champagne ... and greetings and roses and you begin to march through the market place again ... SOOOO many people smiling and hugging and roses and .... well, you get the idea ... and then beautiful Richard Arnold is handing out roses ... he's the Oberburgermeister of S.G. Tall, handsome and smart.

All of the '50s' parade round the town to the center under the tower of the Johanniskirche and sing a very special song 'Alois'. I can't translate it literally ... but I believe it's about a conversation between two men in a pub. In the first verse, the first man says blessings to the second man ... then, in the second verse, the first man asks that the second man buy him a beer ... then in the third and final verse, the first man says to the second man, if you don't buy me a beer ... you can kiss my a**. And then all of the 50 year olds turn around and face away ... it's very funny ... but also sooo special ...

Afterwards, we all have a dinner in a nearby restaurant ... It's not easy to describe the conviviality and the joy of this day ... but I hope that you can begin to feel it in the following photos. I will try my best to keep you up to date on my travels throughout Germany and - if I go to Antibes - also my exhibition in the Chateau de Saint Martin in the south of France.

Schwaebisch Gmuend, 2011


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