By Jon Schroeder
The Cove Herald
The parade wasn’t like most — it wasn’t performed so much for people watching (there weren’t any) but for the people who walked. A horseman rode in front, St. Martin leading the children onto the right path.
About 40 children walked in the second annual St. Martin’s Day parade at the Copperas Cove City Park, with about 100 people walking in all. Many held colorful homemade lanterns, and many of those lanterns were made by people who had never made them before, not being steeped in German culture themselves.
The parade’s namesake, St. Martin, is known for his generosity and concern for the poor, both characteristics many parents would like to see their children emulate.
“When he was serving the poor, he was serving Christ,” said Matthew Kinney, a local seminarian who told the story of St. Martin to the crowd before the start of the parade.
Two stories stick out about St. Martin, Kinney says. The first is that he cut his cloak in half to save a beggar from freezing to death. Later he saw Jesus — wearing half of his cloak. In the second story, St. Martin, reluctant to become bishop, hid in a stable but was discovered because of loud geese.
The holiday is primary a Catholic, German tradition, but people from all backgrounds showed Thursday evening for the festivities. German was spoken and sung in the parade, even as Texan relatives drawled questions about St. Martin.
Christina Lampe, who came with her son Benjamin, daughter Rebecca and husband Brian, said her sister, living in Germany, also went to a St. Martin’s Day parade Thursday.
Lampe said the event brought her back to when she was a little girl, walking with a lantern in another St. Martin’s Day parade.
“I want my kids to have that, too,” she said.
Her husband, on the other hand, had seen “nothing like it before,” not having grown up in a German household.
Christi Cook came out with her daughter Jenny Hogue and her grandchildren Lucas and Isabella.
“It’s my heritage,” she said. Her grandkids hadn’t been exposed enough to her culture, and a an event like a St. Martin’s Day parade is similar to events in Cook’s own past. “I just think as a grandmother that it teaches them what I did.”
Cook said this is the first similar parade she’s seen in Copperas Cove, but she’ll “certainly” be walking in the parade again next year.
Margie Cardec, who is a Catholic — but Hispanic, not German — said she came out to give her daughter Milani an experience with another culture.
“It’s something nice that we don’t usually do,” she said. “Even though we’re not German, we can participate.”
Maureen Harviel, a great grandmother there with younger members of her family, was celebrating her birthday alongside St. Martin’s Day.
“I love it,” she said. “I wish I knew the song in German.”
The St. Martin’s parade was her first in Copperas Cove, but she said she was having a great time.
Patrick Pfeifer, president of Pfeifer’s German Bakery and Deli, which provided sweet raisin rolls for the occasion, said he thought it was a good turnout.
“It’s like my childhood coming back,” said his wife Diana.
Tracie Chaney, head wrangler for 3 West Ranch Equestrian Center, provided a horse to ride in the front of the parade free of charge and provided herself to play the part of St. Martin.
Hand-in-Hand, a German-American preschool, helped encourage kids and their parents to turn out for this year’s parade, making for a much larger turnout than organizer Daggy Lippert anticipated.
Last year, only about 30 people came to the parade. This year’s 100 is a big jump, but next year, Lippert says, “it will be huge.”
Lippert started putting a St. Martin’s Day parade together in Copperas Cove last year because it brought back memories.
“I just like keeping the tradition alive for my kids,” she says.
Lippert spent most of the time walking near the front of the parade, “having a good old time” singing songs in German and trying to teach them to the kids.
“Above the stars are shining,” she sang (although not in English). “Down here, we’re shining...”
Contact Jon Schroeder at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (254) 547-0248