Dressed in a grey sweater and wearing ski goggles, junior Maddie Richterkessing throws Tootsie Rolls to the children lining the street. Her float, Bavarian Winter Wonderland, is eye-catching with a moving gondola and a snow-capped mountain.
“My favorite part would have to be getting to throw candy at kids,” Richterkessing said. ”I like to see them go crazy over it. That’s really fun, and it’s kind of funny how they react.”
This was the second year Richterkessing participated in the St. Charles Oktoberfest with her family. Her aunt, Jody Cook, came up with the float’s winter wonderland theme after last year’s float–featuring a family tree with all of their family names–was such a success. This year, they won first place for the Most Creative float.
“I just started thinking of the country of Germany, and it was so hot this summer that I thought snow and cold,” Jody Cook said. ”So I thought of winter wonderland.”
The Cooks and Richterkessings built the float themselves. The most impressive part was the moving gondola lift made by Richterkessing’s uncle, Mark Cook. The lift was created from an old 10-speed bike chain, detergent buckets and a windshield wiper motor.
“She dreams it up, and I build it,” Mark Cook said.
Richterkessing–along with her father Gary, mother Joan, uncle Mark, aunt Jody and grandfather Clarence–prepared for the parade two weeks in advance. The parade took place Oct. 29 at 10 a.m. on Main Street. The route began from the Foundry Arts Centre and ended by Trailhead.
“I like participating because I’m embracing my German heritage which I don’t really do very often,” Richterkessing said. “And it’s just a fun way to be with my family at the same time.”