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Martin’s Parade in Bonn cancelled: But here’s how the Duisdorf fire brigade saves the day

Martin’s Parade in Bonn cancelled : But here’s how the Duisdorf fire brigade saves the day

The city of Bonn bans St. Martin's events in public spaces due to increasing corona infection rates. The Duisdorf fire brigade is inventive and has developed an alternative with day-care centres and schools.

Leather boots, helmet and red coat are ready. Here, in the building of the Duisdorf fire brigade, rests the spirit of Saint Martin. Until Daniel Klein and his comrades bring it to life. This year, however, everything will be completely different: instead of taking a big train through the district, the volunteers want to preserve the tradition with small visits to day-care centres, schools and other institutions. But that will require a lot of effort - and a precise timetable.

The official cancellation for the Duisdorf Martinszug came a few days ago. "Others were quicker there than us, but we wanted to wait and see how the situation developed," says Klein. On Wednesday, the city issued a cancellation of all Martin's events in public places in view of rising infection rates - which nullifies plans to replace the big Bonn train, but not those of the Duisdorfers.

The St. Martin's procession through the city centre had already been considered problematic by the city dean Wolfgang Picken at the beginning of September. Therefore, the church had been looking for an alternative. It was planned that the participants should be placed in different places in Bonn, probably on the Münsterplatz and the Marktplatz - in compliance with the Corona rules. St. Martin was then to move from square to square. Until recently, this alternative concept had been negotiated with the city, the administration wanted to examine it and announced its approval, says Picken. They had not been informed of the current decision. "Fridays for Future and demonstrations yes Martin no. That needs to be explained", says the city dean.

Fire brigade visits kindergartens, schools and facilities

The Duisdorf fire brigade would not have been able to cope with a St. Martin's event based on the Bonn model anyway. "We would have needed a hygiene concept," says Daniel Klein. One of the requirements would have been a safety distance, which would probably have stretched the train with more than 2000 participants to about three kilometres. Singing would have been prohibited, and the joint closing fire would probably have been cancelled. "None of this is ideal.“

The people of Duisdorf have actually been practising the solution to this dilemma for a long time: shortly before the train arrived, they visited day-care centres, schools and facilities such as retirement homes. "The background is that we have peace and quiet there to tell the story of St. Martin," explains Klein. Otherwise, parents and children would be constantly chatting, there would only be a few minutes left around the campfire to explain the reason for the celebration.

If you are alone with the children, you can split the programme: First it's about St. Martin, then about social topics. "In 2015 we had the refugee crisis. Now it will be the Corona pandemic, in which the idea of charity and consideration for one another is just as important," says Klein. The 46-year-old, who has two children himself, wants to convey everyday moral courage with his helpers. "It takes courage to stand in front of a crying classmate." This is then illustrated in role plays.

People in charge on site decide on how to come together

The Martins-rescuers are already in contact with day-care centres and schools. They are taking three days off and specifying time slots in which the facilities can make commitments. "Everyone has their own ideas about how to get together. That's why we leave it up to the people in charge on site," says Klein. At the Ludwig Richter School, all four classes used to meet in the gymnasium, but now two classes are being combined. Elsewhere, attendance is only possible in classes.

The Rochusschule will gather in the schoolyard, as primary school teacher Anna Seibel explains. "Instead of lanterns, we will be decorating preserving jars and making a little procession in the schoolyard." The fire brigade has even offered to take care of a small fire. "For the children, this is a highlight that they look forward to all year round. The fact that there is an alternative makes for a bit of normality, given that so much has gone wrong this year," says Seibel. And nobody even has to do without the alarm clock: It comes neatly packed in paper bags to the children.

Imagination is also required for the raffle. Because the sale of the 50-cent tickets - more than 10,000 of them - is an important addition to the subsidy from the city and the VR-Bank Bonn to finance the more than 2,000 alarm clocks and the customs. They are now distributed to the families in the day-care centres and schools, and are also available at Café Schells Eck, at the Penkert bakery and at the fire brigade. Whatever income is left over goes back to the groups and classes. For example, it supports children who cannot afford a school trip.

Whether the concept works in this way, however, also depends on the development of infection rates. "We don't know what is still to come," says Klein. Although the helpers had already taken the days off at the beginning of November, restrictions are possible at short notice.

Up-to-date information on the Martin tradition in Duisdorf can be found at www.sanktmartin-duisdorf.de

(Original text: Nicolas Ottersbach / Translation: Ma)