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Tubing the Hooch ... in winter?
Fun ensues as Helen celebrates German version of Mardi Gras
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Faschingverein toast their chilly float down the Chattahoochee River Saturday in Helen. Thirty-five people floated about a quarter-mile in 40-degree weather on the fourth annual German Mardi Gras, called Fasching, organizers said. Many floaters and their supporters took to the Helendorf River Inn and Conference Center afterward to warm up. - photo by NAT GURLEY

The Northeast Georgia Alpine Village of Helen on Saturday celebrated its fourth annual Fasching, the German version of Mardi Gras, with a parade and a quick group float through town on the Chattahoochee River in the afternoon and a party Saturday night. “Our purpose is to be spontaneous, fun, and to promote the city,” said one of the event’s organizers, Sharon Hartis. “No politics, just fun.” Thirty-five brightly dressed “faschingverein” put in their inflatable rafts along River Street and floated about a quarter-mile through town, taking out at the Munich Strasse bridge. Helen’s “friendship city” of Fussen, Germany, also celebrates the festival, and the two towns have sent representatives to each other’s Faschings and traded commemorative medals, Hartis said. Last year’s faschingverein paraded in falling snow, but Saturday’s celebrants enjoyed temperatures in the 40s. Fasching Helen has a facebook page at

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