My First Karneval: On the Verge

Before Hyde sends me a message to “gently” remind me that my blog post is due today, I figured that I should get something up here. It isn’t my preferred style to just throw something up here, half-baked or half-thought through, but I realised that I’m on the “verge” of everything that is a hot topic right now: refugees, Karneval and the American election. Regarding the election back home, I’m not touching that one just yet. Otherwise politically engaged, I find myself wanting to plug my ears while screaming, “Make it stop!!”

Miss ID

Representing Miss Identified at Karneval in Düsseldorf 2016 PHOTO: Jane Park

I did talk about the refugee situation last year and how I was trying to find my way towards helping beyond donating winter coats and towels. Here I am on the verge. I’ll be meeting with the mentor coordinator of our neighborhood charity for refugees next week who will introduce me to my mentee and the person I will be sharing the Patenschaft or mentorship with. I am excited to be able to write about this experience in a future post. But I can’t just yet.

And the last topic is Karneval. My wallet is sticky from sampling Berliners at the bakery today, and I’ve already procured a bat costume, dug out a Wonder Woman costume snagged on sale two years ago, and researched and ordered a mermaid costume for my three kids. My younger adult self always wanted to celebrate the fifth season just as I wanted to check off Oktoberfest, the spas in Baden-Baden, and visiting the Beethoven House from my “while living in Germany” bucket list. (You might be scratching your head about the Beethoven House but it is just that I was thwarted twice from getting inside in the course of ten years which has only made me more determined.) My husband, my assumed partner in crime, has never been a big Karneval fan despite having grown up in the Rheinland. His extent of participating is to just remember to wear an icky tie on Weiberfastnacht. So I have never participated in Karneval in any vague sense of the word. (In Germany that is.)

It is now our second Karneval season while living in Essen, which is not a traditional Karneval city but is adjacent to one, Düsseldorf. As a member of the American Women’s Club of Düsseldorf the opportunity to participate in the centuries old tradition of storming City Hall and cutting off ties in the name of women’s lib presents itself each year in my inbox: Sign up to Storm the Rathaus.

So I signed up. I have my costume which was organised and ordered by the coordinators of the event. We’ll be going as misguided beauty pageant queens. I reluctantly, at the urging of my kids, tried on the blond wig and was horrified to find an unattractive drag queen looking back at me in the mirror. I’ve got a crown and a beauty pageant sash to go with it. I’ll be “Miss Identified.” Misidentified as a drag queen it seems.

Like I said, I’m on the verge of experiencing my first Karneval. We’ll see how it goes.


Is Miss Identified misdirected at the Rathaus in Düsseldorf? PHOTO: Jane Park

– Jane


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