Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Wolfenbüttel Summer Festivals!

You may have noticed that nearly every weekend there is something exciting happening here!!  I’d like to take this opportunity to catch you up on two very important annual events in Wolfenbüttel —Entenrennen (Duck Race) and Buspulling (You guessed it! Bus pulling).  

On Saturday May 31, we experienced the joy of the Entenrennen.  We all met up at the so-called “duck pond” in town to see the festivities, and were impressed by the amount fan-fare involved!  We all bought a rubber duckie for 2 Euro to participate in the race.  The duckies are modeled after Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, the namesake of the Wolfenbüttel theater I mentioned in an earlier post (here).  They sport his fashionable white wig, and carry a book under one wing and a horse (the symbol of Lower Saxony) in the other.

Sophia buying her duckie!  The anticipation is building!
You can see the resemblance, right?
All of the rubber duckies are taken up onto a bridge over the Oker River and dumped in at the sound of the buzzer!  They sort of dawdle down the small, slow-moving river for about 100 yards before being funneled into a basket from which they will choose the winners.  The first duckie to finish won their human a helicopter ride over Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel—Needless to say, I was relieved to not be the winner of such a “special” prize.  They drew from the rest of the duckies to pass out smaller, more children-oriented prizes later in the afternoon.  Once the race was finished, you could purchase a duckie to keep for another 2 Euro.  Of course we all did.  All of the proceeds benefit a childrens hospital in Wolfenbüttel.

The crowd on the bridge...
The release!!!!

Some real duckies were also involved...
I like to imagine that black cat is the referee.
After the race, we had a good time showing our Lessing ducks around town!

The Entenrennen Crew: Anita, Matthias, Julia, and Sophia

Since I can't get up on this statue, my duckie had to do it for me!
The very next weekend, June 5, it was time for the Annual Bus Pulling Tournament!  This is apparently quite the tradition here in Wolfenbüttel…  Fans come from all over to cheer on their favorite 5-person bus-pulling teams! And by “all over,” I mostly mean within a ten-mile radius.  Nevertheless, they enjoy calling it the “International World Tournament.”  It is my understanding that it began with mostly firefighters pulling fire trucks, and that most of the proceeds still go to support regional fire departments.

Just a normal day in Wolfenbuettel...
This was the first passenger bus used in Wolfenbuettel! (That's what I'm saying and pointing out to Alberto, who took this picture...)
This Australian TV duo does a pretty good job introducing us to the principals and excitement of the whole deal:

There were several rounds, with the best teams advancing each time, until a winner was finally declared at the end of the day.  There was even a women’s bracket!  The teams consisted of six people, but only five pull the bus.  The sixth person just follows the pullers and yells in their faces to go faster… I would like that position on the team.  The team must pull the bus 30 meters, and the sum of the teams two fastest rounds are added together.  The fastest team wins.

Girl Power!
My favorite team of the day was the Wolfenbüttel Volunteer Fire Department, because they showed up in their fire truck and pulled the bus in full bunker gear.  Their times were not competitive, but they showed the most pizzazz!

Good work, guys!  Thanks, Alberto, for capturing this special moment!

At the end of the day, the Almdudlers took home the prize, and bragging rights across the globe!  And we all loved Wolfenbüttel even more.

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