By NICOLE CLARK
Kitchener-Waterloo had an estimated 150,000 people line its streets Oct. 10 for the 48th annual Oktoberfest parade.
Forty-six floats and marching bands travelled the parade route that stretched approximately five kilometres. Miss Oktoberfest, Onkel Hans and Tante Frieda were some of the stars at the event.
Another star in attendance for the opening weekend of K-W Oktoberfest was Prime Minister Justin Trudeau; he was there to kick off the festival with the official keg tapping on Oct. 7, which also included the first raising of the maypole.
The K-W Oktoberfest Mobile Maypole won the first-place festival award. It featured a tall pole with a wreath and Canadian flag which, after crowd encouragement, was raised into the air.
Nine-year-oldOwen Kalbfleisch was asked which was his favourite parade float. “The one with the puppets,” he said. “Because they came up to us and started talking.”
The parade filled the streets with colour, singing, dancing and German-based traditions.
K-W’s Oktoberfest parade, held every Thanksgiving Monday, is more than just a way to entertain the kids and get some fresh, crisp October morning air. It is a tradition.
Many families use this event to bring their family together and celebrate.
Danielle Kalbfleisch has been bringing her sons Lukas and Owen to the parade since they were born.
When did she begin attending the Oktoberfest parade? “When I was, gosh, seven?” Danielle said.
What keeps her returning year after year? “Just tradition and supporting Kitchener-Waterloo and its German background; my German heritage.”
Tradition was a sentiment felt throughout the large crowds lining the streets.
Anna Alvarez, a native of Columbia, said, “I’ve been here for 27 years and I always come. I love it; it’s a tradition to come here.”
Family traditions are important, especially when it comes to the family business. This is true for Louis Tsiktsiris, a vendor who has walked the streets of the parade since he was eight. He would accompany his dad, selling popcorn and cotton candy to the eager children.
Why does Tsiktsiris continue to bring his treat-filled cart to the parade each and every year?
“There is hardly anyone left doing this,” he said. “It’s always busy. I’ve been coming here for 25 years.”
There is also a collective feeling of togetherness that resonates with the attendees. What is not to love about communities coming together in the name of tradition, heritage and family?
Richard Friedrich, an Oktoberfest parade attendee for as long as he can remember, said what he enjoys about the event and also what draws him back every year is “all the gatherings and everybody getting together.”
With all of the excitement surrounding Oktoberfest and the adult-driven festivities the event has to offer, families revel in the opportunity to gather together as a whole to celebrate the German history the community is built on.