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Bonn tradition: 1,300 children take part in St. Martin’s procession

Bonn tradition : 1,300 children take part in St. Martin’s procession

The traditional event remains a crowd-puller. 1,300 children were singing as they walked with their colorful lanterns through the Bonn inner city on Monday evening.

"Ich gehe mit meiner Laterne" (“I’m walking with my lantern”) could be heard on the streets and alleys between Münsterplatz and Markt on Monday evening. Nearly 1,300 children, accompanied by music, moved through the city on this warm November evening. A big bonfire was lit at the end of the big St. Martin’s procession in Bonn.

Numerous spectators lined the procession route, many of whom had gathered at the illuminated Sterntor. Martin Heide played the role of St. Martin and his colleague Klaus Lang played the role of the beggar, recreating for the children the scene where St. Martin divides and shares his cloak with the beggar. The Martin’s tradition was only recently declared a cultural heritage.

The central Bonn Martin’s procession is one of the largest in the Rhineland. This year's motto was "Be a beacon of light - like St. Martin", sending out a message of compassion and charity, which the St. Martin’s tradition conveys. Sebastian Stiewe, a project leader involved with the procession and slogan said that it was about much more than just walking through the streets with colorful lanterns on this one day.

Already in the past weeks the history of St. Martin and the importance of celebrating this tradition had been a topic in Bonn's kindergartens and schools. The actor portraying St. Martin had made numerous visits last week, for example to hospitals and children's homes and senior citizen homes, bringing the St. Martin’s tradition to people who could not take part in the procession this year.

Despite volunteer help, the costs for this year’s St. Martin’s procession was 17,000 euros, for which a crowdfunding campaign was launched for the first time. In addition to around 35 private donors, this year's procession was financed by the Bonn District Council, the Gemeindeverband Bonn, Sparkasse KölnBonn, Haribo, Knauber, the Fassbender Foundation Alfter and Udelhofen Realtors. Any proceeds will go towards the procession costs for next year.

Orig. text: Verena Düren

Translation: ck