When: 2 p.m. sidewalk and river parade and 7-11 p.m. party Saturday, Jan. 30
Where: The Festhalle, 1074 Edelweiss Strasse, Helen
Cost: $5 at the door
More info: www.facebook.com/FVHelen
While many would be nestled by the fire on a cold Saturday in January, members of Helen’s Faschingsverein organization are preparing their annual Mardi Gras-style celebration, including a trip down the Chattahoochee River followed by a party Jan. 30.
The chilly, wet ride down the river started as a small endeavor in 2011 and was inspired by the Fasching Festival in Fussen, Germany, Faschingsverein member Walt Snyder said.
“The firefighters jump off a bridge to raise money,” Snyder said. “Obviously the bridge in Helen is too shallow for that.”
So instead, members of the Faschingsverein decided to tube down the Chattahoochee.
“In 2011, it was just me and two other people,” Faschingsverein member Sharon Hartis said.
Two years later, 13 people tubed down the river as snow fell down on them.
“The only problem we had was people throwing snowballs at us,” Snyder said with a laugh.
Last year, the event showed tremendous growth, hosting 92 tubers who were old as 85 and as young as 12. And while a majority of the tubers are Faschingsverein members, the tubing is open to the public.
Tubing down the Chattahoochee is free. However, the organization asks those wishing to participate to register in advance to ensure enough tubes are inflated for the event.
Tubers will start their ride at the Riverbend Motel, 134 River St., directly following a parade that begins at 2 p.m. Participants will end their river journey at the Festhalle, 1074 Edelweiss Strasse.
A party at the Festhalle will follow at 7 p.m. for a cost of $5 at the door. Food, soft drinks, beer, and wine will all be available for purchase.
The party will include games, contests and live music. The Bavarian Express band from Atlanta will play Fasching music, which is its own genre. Some of the games in past years have been bratwurst stuffing and pretzel making contests.
“Everybody just has a good time ... The big thing is to just come out and enjoy yourself,” Snyder said.