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February 2011 - Nr. 2
Dick Altermann at the computer

Alaaf – Helau – Ahoy…

…those were the days! Carnival or Mardi Gras is no longer what it used to be – at least not in our neighborhood. Many of us – who are now “Old-timers” may still remember the lavish productions at the Palace Pier; the Lakeshore Inn or the Harmonie Club on Sherbourne Street, where the first “Dreigestirn” of the Prince, the Farmer and the Virgin (all male) was introduced to the foolish crowd in Toronto.

Armin Hellmann, President BDKKWho still remembers ‘Old Severin’ and the City Hall takeovers in Pickering, the elaborate events at the Convention Centre in Hamilton – or the Parade there? I am not even going to mention the fantastic “Manöverballs” there and in Toronto, where visitors from all over North America came to participate and where, in Hamilton, the greatest attraction for the visiting girl-guards was the swimming pool in the hotel. Those Helga Kochgroups of dedicated young ladies loved what they were doing and enjoyed the friendships, camaraderie and prestige they encountered. Most often the girls from the ‘Narragonia’, Brantford walked off with the First Place ranking.

In the early days many of them dragged their boyfriends along, at least once. Most of them did not come back because everything was done in German – a language they were not familiar with, thus they never caught the exhilarating spark of carnival. Neither did we ever see many new faces at events like the ‘Ball in Blue-Silver’ hosted by the Treue Husaren The coronation of Prince David I.Society of Toronto at the Galaxy Club in Oakville where the event was hosted by the local society. Many will also remember a “Prinzenball” where all available past and present princes were invited to attend complete with “Hofstaat” and retinue.

Since the carnival season starts traditionally after the 11th of November and ends with the Herring Dinner on Ash Wednesday there were hardly enough Saturdays to celebrate carnival for the then still existing carnival societies.

I remember well the year when Otto Wimmer was Prince of the 1st Torontoer Carnival Society, often we visited five different events on one Saturday evening – including one held at the Holiday Inn at the Airport and one in Pickering. The Kitchener contingentThat was quite a bit of traveling! Yes, we also visited the KG Hansa and the GKG Narrhalla and the Narrenzunft, in Kitchener, and the Loreley Club on another Saturday. By the way, the Club Loreley may still maintain the largest body of Girl-Guards both Seniors and Juniors in training!

Being the official press representative or media relations person I never officially joined any of the societies, preferring to remain neutral or ‘unattached’ although I became an honorary member in many of them and attended the meetings of the ‘Festausschuss’ in Toronto as a press representative for many years.

The head table of the GKG Narrhalla '58 with Heinz Ollesch, Horst Rewald, Albert Kergl, Hugh & Monika Turner, Lori & Richarch Kramolowsky
The head table of the GKG Narrhalla '58 with Heinz Ollesch, Horst Rewald, Albert Kergl, Hugh & Monika Turner, Lori & Richarch Kramolowsky

Girl Guard of the GKG Narrhalla '58Those were the days. Now most of the Carnival Societies are defunct. The members are either too old or already six feet under and most of us, who still survive, are on the way out or all we have left are fantastic and colourful memories plus lots of photographs!

A very active Club Loreley
A very active Club Loreley and their dance groups
A very active Club Loreley and their dance groups
A very active Club Loreley and their dance groups
A very active Club Loreley and their dance groups

Switching to English as the language of carnival has not helped since it was too late to encourage our siblings to join the fun. They now think of themselves as all Canadian. President of the BDKK Armin Hellmann and Echo Germanica tried. At one point it looked as though we succeeded, but the idea never quite caught on.

Our memories should also include some of the driving forces behind the success of carnival in Ontario, such as Fred Wagner, Brantford; or Albert Kergl, Hamilton, Frank Kluksaritz, who left us unfortunately too soon and are still sorely missed. There are many more that fit into this category and are still remembered and mourned.

I could be rambling on long enough to fill a book, but this should only be a small reminder of what is in the hearts and minds of the true Carnevalists.

As always, now with a mournful “Alaaf and Helau”

Dick Altermann

Dick reports about community, historical, cultural, ethnic events within the distribution area of Echo Germanica from a German-Canadian perspective.

Email to Dick Altermann
Dick Altermann, GKG Narrhalla 58, Mardi Gras, carnival, reports, clubs, community, historical, cultural, ethnic events, German-Canadian, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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