Little did we all know but in one month we would all be wearing masks at home in quarantine! On February 16, 2020, however, things were still fairly normal, and yet even in fancy Schwäbisch Hall this spectacle was not really normal.
A week later gusting winds would cause the Carnival in and around Cologne to be cancelled or held in a limited fashion, for example, with no horses in the parade on Rosenmontag.
But in Schwäbisch Hall the tradition of Hallia Venezia continued. One week before Carnival-Sunday every year (since 1998) the town turns into a colorful display of elaborate costumes, beautifully set against the backdrop of the rich old town.
In the morning approximately 200 masked (a Covid omen?) and costumed people traipsed through the town and posed for the approximately 400 photographers
, who had come from all over the region for the opportunity to capture pictures such as these. The weather is not always good in late February, but this year it was perfect. At 2:00 pm the participants gathered at the top of the 54 steps leading up to St. Michael. The photographers and other onlookers gathered below. The sunlight accompanied the couples as they slowly and gracefully descend the steps.
Some take the opportunity to draw extra attention to themselves. This tall man, dressed like Gene Simmons of KISS, thoroughly enjoyed the event and the applause he drew for his homemade costume.
Schwäbisch Hall (and every other German city with "Hall" in its name) was originally known as a source of the valuable commodity salt ("salary" comes from the root word for "salt"). Today this town - called only "Hall" by its residents - is best known for this cultural spectacle and the theater festivals that take place both on the steps of St. Michael's and in the Globe Theater
there. The Kunsthalle Würth
is an incredible (free!) art museum and well worth a visit anytime you are in the area.
The entire town becomes a backdrop for the beautiful costumes, some of which are made anew every year for this spectacle.
Children also enjoy the spectacle, sometimes as viewers...
...and just as often as participants.
It is quite a challenge vying for position to get the right motif, the perfect light and background, and no photographers with their modern equipment in the picture. Sometimes you succeed.
That's why you must have patience and the right lens(es). I had a 70-300mm lens on my Sony A7iii body for this event. Many photographers had two big cameras slung around their neck, one with a wide-angle and the other with a telephoto lens on a camera body. I just had my Sony RX 100iii in my pocket for the wider shots, those being the first two shown here and the picture of the two couples and their dogs.