Written by: Pavlina Schriel, Miss German-America 2019

This past March I had the life changing opportunity to travel to Köln for Karneval. Although my time in Germany was short, it was full of activity. On my first full day, I was invited to join the Mayor’s float in a parade in Hürth. It was with Burgermeister Dirk Breuer that I was introduced to the ways of the Karneval celebrations. Each float is packed with sweets, snacks, Strüssjer (flowers), and small toys. As we moved along the streets we tossed whatever we could get our hands on into the crowds. From babies to senior citizens, everyone participates and collects goodies by shouting “Kamelle!”

On Sunday I participated in another special parade. During the New York Steuben Parade in September, I met various groups from overseas. I kept running into one group in particular, the Bergheimer Torwache. I befriended their Prinz, Peter Orlowski. When I knew I was going to Köln, I reached out to Peter in hopes of being able to meet up with his group again. To my surprise the answer was not only yes but the group invited me to join their float for their parade in Bergheim! When I got to Bergheim, I met Americans from the German American Mardi Gras Association. We were informed that we would be the first ever Americans to participate in the Bergheim parade, what an honor! The Bergheimer Torwache showed me immense hospitality and I can’t thank them enough. 

Rosenmontag concluded my final full day in Köln. That morning I went to the Rathaus of Köln for the Mayor’s breakfast reception. The reception had various performing groups gearing us up with the Karneval spirit. After the reception we made our way to the designated seating area of Buergergarde “Blau-Gold”, the group that generously sponsored me that day. The parade lasted four hours! Four hours of candy catching and dodging! There are thousands of marchers, dozens of floats, creative costumes and fun music.  The spirit of Karneval inspired me; it is a way of life. During Karneval everyone participates and celebrates and cherishes one another. 

I would like to express my sincerest gratitude to Bürgermeister Dirk Breuer of Hürth, the Nuechter family and Buergergarde “Blau-Gold”, the Bergheimer Torwache, Herr Bernd and Frau Monika Hinz, Bob and Anita Radske, Frau Analie Hintz, and to anyone else who made sure my Karneval experience would be an unforgettable one. Til next time, Köln, Kölle Alaaf!