HELEN – Helen’s annual Fasching events will continue citywide, despite the required cancellation of the Helen Chamber of Commerce’s annual gathering in the Festhalle.
Newly sworn Mayor Pro Tem Fred Garmon and other city officials stressed the events planned around town for the weekends of Jan. 29-31 and Feb. 4-6 will continue as planned.
The large-scale gatherings at the Festhalle, however, have been cancelled due to Gov. Brian Kemp’s executive order regulating venues during the COVID-19 public health emergency. The Helen Festhalle, operated by the Helen Chamber of Commerce, is classified as a venue.
Fasching, celebrated in Austria, Bavaria and Berlin, features pre-Lenten festivities celebrated in grand style. People traditionally celebrate in costumes at various Carnival community events and individual parties.
Fasching celebrations have varied roots.
For Catholics, Fasching provided a festive season of food and fun before the Lenten fasting period began.
In pre-Christian times, Carnival celebrations symbolized driving out winter and all of its perceived evil spirits, hence the masks used in portions of Germany and Switzerland.
Several members of Faschingsverein Helen attended Tuesday’s city commission meeting explaining that the group’s upcoming scavenger hunt on Friday and Saturday, Jan. 29-30, and the 10th-annual Sidewalk and River Parade on Saturday, Feb. 6, will go on as planned.
As of Tuesday, 17 Helen businesses are participating in the scavenger hunt, said Sharon Hartis of the Faschingsverein.
“They just go to each business and get their card punched,” Hartis said. “It’s no purchase necessary. And then there’s a little scavenger hunt that goes on as well.”
Cards can visit participating businesses to pick up their card and begin their journey anytime on Friday, Jan. 29, or Saturday, Jan. 30. Cards must be turned in at the Hofbrauhaus by 6 p.m. Saturday.
This year’s winner will be recognized via a Facebook Live post outside the Hofbrauhaus at 6:30 p.m. The winner must be present.
“Everything about that event is outdoors as far as we’re concerned,” Hartis said.
During the Sidewalk and River Parade on Feb. 6, participants will be required to wear a mask during the sidewalk portion. Once on tubes in the river, Hartis said participants will have to rely on the shape of the tubes to help with social distancing in the river current.
Registration for the tubing parade, limited to 100 participants, will take place in the Riverfront Conference Room of the Helendorf from noon to 12:45 p.m. The parade will leave the Helendorf at 1 p.m. and will make schnapps stops at local businesses on the way to Riverbend Motel, where participants will enter the river on a tube, floating the Chattahoochee River to the area of the Festhalle.
Tubing is free and available only to the first 100 people who register. Those who choose to participate in the schnapps stops must be 21, provide a valid I.D. and pay $10 for an armband.
Costumes are encouraged but not required.
“We tried to put guidelines in place to continue on with those outdoor activities, bring people to Helen, let them appreciate our favorite little Alpine Village and let them stay safe at the same time,” Hartis said.
Faschingsverein Helen is a club whose members promote the “Alpine” in Alpine Helen by promoting the city and its businesses at local events and activities.
For more information about the events, visit Faschingsverein Helen on Facebook.