Munich seems sleepy and swept empty on Sunday morning, with constant rain and a temperature of ten degrees. But if you follow the steaming horse droppings on Erhardtstraße along the Isar, you will come across a few horse-drawn carriages that join the big traditional costume and riflemen’s parade at the Maxmonument. A couple of tourists jump onto an empty car, delighted by the opportunity to take a ride, which is unbeatable in terms of local colour.
Since 1950, the traditional costume parade has taken place on the first Sunday of the Wiesn. With around 9,000 participants, 60 train numbers and a length of seven kilometers, it is one of the largest parades in the world. To the marching sounds of the Uffinger drummers and the ringing of the St. Luke’s bells, the convoy sets off shortly after ten, from Maximilianstraße via the Stachus to the Theresienwiese.
Traditional costume, sports and rifle clubs, marching bands and bands in traditional uniforms ensure a colorful spectacle. From lavishly decorated barrel wagons of the breweries and jugglers on the opulent Circus Krone wagon, to the traditional costume association of the coopers in a team decorated with hops and sunflowers, to hunting clubs with stuffed game and excited hunting dogs surrounded by horses. Many a bird of prey would like to detach itself from the arm of its wearer, certainly not an advertising event for animal welfare.
But first we have to wait and see. With train number and waiting zone, precisely defined by street name, house and even window number, they line up along the Isar. The same applies to the musicians of the Donauwörth town band, who are waiting in their royal blue uniform – which thankfully includes a hat to protect against the rain – near the Praterwehr Bridge. After their first application, the band had to wait three years for their permission to participate, which makes it all the greater to be able to take part for the third time.
It will take more than an hour before the Donauwörther with train number 55 can get ready and all the guest of honor carriages have joined the train. Mayor Dieter Reiter will start with his wife Petra in an open carriage and weatherproof anorak. Smile and wave as soon as the four draft horses start moving. As the rain and wind increase, the Söders’ white and blue carriage gets ready. Together under an umbrella, the prime minister and his wife beam at the crowd. After a long wait, Wiesn boss Clemens Baumgärtner is allowed to line up behind the carriage of the second mayor, Katrin habenschaden.
At half-time, the cold and wet wore down many a spectator, big and small. The stamina of the marchers, whose traditional costume is often short-sleeved, is admirable. The enthusiasm of the costumers does not decrease with increasing train numbers. At the end of the waiting zone, a dance group from the Allgäu keeps warm and in a good mood with live music and Schuhplattler – the community makes the club.