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News and views from the German-language region of Europe

May 30, 2009

"Save our beach party!"

Filed under Life in Europe

The people in the village where I lived 14 years take their annual beach party seriously – even if they don’t have a beach!

From July 1994 until December 2008 I lived in the village of Mondorf, part of the city of Niederkassel. Mondorf is just across the Rhine River Mondorf Strandfest from the northern part of Bonn. This year is the 75th year in a row that Mondorf has had its traditional Pentecost "beach party" (German: "Strandfest") on the Rhine, even though there really isn’t a beach there worthy of the name. Since the day after Pentecost is also a holiday here, the event provides a three-day festival. But then after last year’s "Strandfest" one of the people living down by the Rhine complained about the noise level of the festivities at night. The event turns into a miniature carnival of sorts with rides for the children (and adults). In March a court decision would have meant that this year’s 75th beach party would have been canceled. So the people of Mondorf organized a demonstration that took place pretty much right in front of the person’s house who had gone to court. A thousand people showed up for the demonstration, and supporters of the "Strandfest" had posters printed saying "Save our beach party" that were then put on display in shops all over town. Mondorf Strandfest From personal experience I can say it is not a good idea to get on the bad side of the locals in small towns like Mondorf. Perhaps the demonstration had some effect, because the person bringing the lawsuit said he did not mind if the beach party would take place this year, but there would need to be some arrangement to keep the noise down for next year’s Pentecost event – the 76th consecutive time it will take place. However, since the court decision was binding, arrangements had to be made for this year’s party. So two sound engineers showed up before yesterday’s opening to measure the loudness of the music from the various rides like the roller coaster. Until 10 p.m. at night 70 decibels are allowed – about as much noise as a lawnmower makes. After 10 p.m. only 55 decibels are allowed – about the level of normal conversation. However, the noise levels do not apply to the hundreds of visitors who will flock to the Rhine each evening. "We can’t put a decibel level on someone shrieking on the roller coaster," was how one vendor explained it. So the non-beach beach party was saved this year, with a lot of noise beforehand and less noise during the event. :-)

Paul Kieffer's blog with personal insights and news from the German-language region in Europe.


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