Fire Parade

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Each year on the Sunday following Ash Wednesday, Liestal, near the larger city of Basel, hosts the Kienbesenzug, or fire parade. Beginning with the haunting melody of flutes and drums the parade soon becomes a spectacle of punishing heat and light as dozens of rolling fire carts are pulled through the old town.Β Interspersed among the massive fire wagons are townspeople carrying flaming torches, many that weigh up to 50 kilograms.

Though the festival certainly smacks of an eerie age-old tradition, the parade has only been around since 1924. The fire wagons began in the 1930s but were deemed too dangerous until 1962 when they came back on the scene.

Adam went to the parade five years ago but it was my first time. I was not at all prepared for how intensely hot it was, which I suppose is a little embarrassing. I just had no idea we’d be so close!

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IMG_2054^^firefighters were regularly dowsing the backs of the torch-carriers

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IMG_2063^^every time one of the big boys came by the crowd would abruptly turn their backs to the flames. It was too hot not to!

IMG_2078^^I sort of hid behind Adam’s back and under his scarf, which was also protecting my coat : )

IMG_0655^^we both looked sunburned afterward

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IMG_2090^^those flames they are a leaping

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IMG_2036^^a lot of faces are melting up there

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IMG_0665^^Adam’s jacket took a hit from a little smoldering ember that landed on his shoulder

Like all other Swiss festivals there were plenty of food and drink stalls and the general sense of merriment was a refreshing change from the normally conservative population. As my brother Matt said, this kind of festival probably wouldn’t get much traction in a lot of U.S. cities due to the high potential for things to go wrong (i.e., litigiously so). While our clothes will probably never lose the smell of smoke it was a solid night celebrating in the Swiss way. To those observing, here’s wishing you a festive yet reflective season of Lent!

Below are a few videos just for fun : )

3 thoughts on “Fire Parade

  1. You’ve got some wicked cool pictures there lil’ sis. Despite the lawsuits, it does look like fun.

    On a totally related note, and keeping in line with this being our private communication tool, I got some new running shoes from elite feet and for your referral they put $10 of credit on your account.

    • I read today that so far there have been no reports of serious injury if you can believe it!

      Also, that’s awesome! That credit will come in handy when I buy new shoes this summer. Hopefully you had a good experience there and got some solid trainers : )

      • I’m about to go on my first run with them, we shall see. I did enjoy the buying experience though and the guys at the store spent some good time with me helping to pick out the new kicks.

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