Ramstein finalizes Fasching season with local festivities

  • Published
  • By Tech Sgt. Jocelyn Rich
  • 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Under a crisp blue sky, with a chill in the air, confetti and silly string littering the main street that winds though the village of Ramstein-Meisenbach. Outbursts of "HALAU" are heard from the crowds lining the roadside in anticipation of the parade celebrating Fasching on March 8, 2011.

Fasching, also known as the Fifth Season, officially begins Nov. 11 at 11:11 a.m. every year. The actual celebrations of the German carnival take place 40 days before Easter; they are the last big party before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent.

In Germany, predominantly in the Rhineland area, the tradition dates back to medieval times.

In Ramstein, members of the local community invited U.S. service members and their families to join them in celebration.

Tech. Sgt. Jacob Chavez, a C-40 flying crew chief from the 86th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, took advantage of the weather and event to bring his family -- wife, Melba, and sons, Xavier, 11, and Caesar, 8, -- to enjoy the festivities.

"This is the first year that we have been here for Fasching. We heard about this and wanted to check it out," said Sergeant Chavez "The atmosphere is awesome; we are having a blast."

Over the years, the Ramstein Fasching Parade tradition has grown to include people from outside of the German-American community.

"We have celebrated on this corner for the last 12 years," said Dick Rastake, originally from Holland and working at Ramstein Air Base. "There are people in our group here from the U.S., the U.K., Holland and, of course, Germany; we are one big family, enjoying this together."

Suddenly, barely audible through cheers of the crowd, the faint beat of a base drum, accompanied by other instruments, grew louder as the precession approached.

Down the street, blue uniforms appeared from behind the lead parade car. Highly polished instruments wielded by U.S. Air Forces in Europe Band members belted out marches, the Air Force song and other numbers, delighting of the crowd.

The USAFE Band was lead through the Ramstein Fasching Parade this year by Chief Master Sgt. William Castleman and drum major, Staff Sgt. Jerome Minor.

"The atmosphere is happy and festive," said Sergeant Minor. "We have had a great reception from the audience and a lot of interaction from the community,"
As the parade floats passed by, participants threw fistfuls of candy out to the crowd.

"We came out to dress up," said Delaynie Treat, 9, daughter of Christine and Sam Treat, both retired Air Force members. "And for the candy and to see the funny costumes," added Tori Wallace, 10, daughter of Chief Master Sgt. Steve Wallace, USAFE Judge Advocate Office.

The atmosphere for the locals was just as enjoyable.

"This is my second time here," said Karin Kr├╝ck from Huetchenhausen. "The German/American interaction is great; it encourages a sense of community."