February 22, 2015
Dan and I were on the bus returning from an uneventful hike when we stumbled across a herd of zebras. They were actually a group of girls dressesd in zebra costumes, but the effect was the same. They, in addition to Waggis, a princess, a baby giraffe, a few vampires and many ordinary humans crammed into the bus as we got closer to Liestal.
We neared Liestal and the bus crawled to a halt as the traffic thickened. Today was Liestal’s Fasnacht celebration and between the detours and the additional visitors, the roads were chock full. Most of the bus emptied at the same stop we got off at, as I had counted on this just making for a quicker walk back to the train station. Instead, it turned into a crowd of people, all eager for the start of the parade.
A penguin and a duck – best friends
The crowds thickened and people were taking their place along the sidewalks. Dan and I agreed that we should hang out and watch the activities. We took a spot on stone wall for better visibility – and escape from the confetti – and waited.
Waiting for the start of the parade
Still a lot of people milling about
An iconic scene: two guys in furry suits drinking beer
Random characters coming down the street
The kids get dressed up, too
Families often make up their own parade group
Perhaps the strangest sighting of all: an actual film camera!
Fasnacht is nothing like Halloween. For one, it is celebrated by people of all ages. For another, it is embraced by everyone. It seems as though everyone takes part, either as a participant or spectator. The spectators are enthusiastic and appreciative, often more so than those in costume. Another difference are the “treats” that are distributed. Today we saw the following being tossed or handed to the eager hands at the side of the road: candy, beer, oranges, bananas, flowers, dried tomato soup packets, gummi bears, carrots and roses. Also there are a lot of political messages on the floats. Most of them go over my head, as I don’t know the intricacies of the local politics and I can’t read the Swiss German.
And then the parade started…
I’ll let the photos speak for themselves, unless there is an explanation that might be helpful.
Drum major for first band unit
Let the confetti fly!
My favorite float – I love the lolling wolf tongues!
Handing out oranges
General view down the parade route (see the evil Waggi with a now-empty bucket?)
About half the floats are hauled by full-size tractors
No one is safe from the confetti
The tuba players each had a wine rack fitted to their instrument. They made liberal use of it.
We didn’t wait for the end of the parade. My feet were cold from the damp from hiking in the snow earlier, and Dan’s hands were chilled. We made our way to the train station and caught a direct run back into Basel. We changed into warm, dry clothes and sat down with a pot of fondue. It was the perfect ending to a less-than-perfect day.