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Cold water and cold drinks: What to expect at Helen's 2021 Fasching festival
Fasching tubing
Participants in the Fasching River Parade and Party ride tubes down the Chattahoochee River in Helen, Georgia on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. The Fasching celebration is a Bavarian version of Mardi Gras. - photo by Austin Steele

Dozens of people dressed in vibrant green, gold and purple attire will brave the freezing Chattahoochee River in the name of revelry and German tradition during Helen’s 10th annual Fasching festival.

The sidewalk and tubing parade will flow into the alpine village from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 6. 

The festival, which serves as something like a German Mardi Gras in Northeast Georgia, includes celebrations and drinking ahead of Ash Wednesday and the 40-day season of Lent and fasting observed in some Christian traditions. 

For Helen’s version of the festivities, people not only parde through the streets of Helen, but also tube down the river. Not deterred by winter weather, participants have carried on the ceremonious floating even during snowstorms. 

Helen’s history of Fasching, which began in 2011, started off small with three friends, Sharon Hartis, Jane Sims and Craig Park, tubing down the Chattahoochee. More recently, the festival has drawn in over 100 people. 

Hartis, who organizes the event, said she was inspired by the celebrations in Füssen, Germany, and brought the idea to Helen to help out local businesses. 

“We’ve been trying to bring back Fasching itself as a citywide event that gets all of the businesses involved, and if it’s bringing people to town, hopefully they’re going to shop and spend money,” she said. “Bring people to town when there’s not normally people coming there.”

The sidewalk parade brings people down the streets of Helen and past eight local restaurants and breweries, where they stop periodically for refreshments. The crowd will then move down to the river for the tubing parade, which will go from the Riverbend Motel to the Helen Festhalle.

“We just parade, and we go from business to business,” Hartis said.

Registration for the tubing parade is free and done from noon to 12:45 p.m. in the

Riverfront conference room of Helendorf Inn, located at 33 Munich Strasse. Only 100 tubes will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. A $10 wristband is required to pick up alcoholic beverages along the sidewalk parade. Identification will be checked to assure those with wristbands are at least 21 years old. 

The sidewalk parade’s stops will include Bodensee Restaurant, Heidelberg Restaurant, König Ludwig Biergarten, Cowboys and Angels Restaurant, Troll Tavern, Paul’s Margarita Deck, Village Crepe Haus and Two Tire Tavern.

People are encouraged to wear masks and practice social distancing at the sidewalk parade. 

Businesses will also prefill beverages for participants during the sidewalk parade to limit the spread of COVID-19.

For more information, visit Faschingsverein Helen’s Facebook page.

10th annual Fasching Sidewalk and River Parade

What: German parade with tubing 

When: Noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 6 

Where: 33 Munich Strasse, Helen

More information: Faschingsverein Helen’s Facebook page