A newly-remodeled parade float for Oktoberfest was unveiled Thursday and “launched” in La Crosse.
Mrs. Oktoberfests’s new new float was christened behind Kramer’s Bar on 3rd Street. Perhaps “christened” isn’t the right word, according to 2012 Mrs. O, Julie Bartels.
“We decided to ‘krausen’ a new float,” Bartels said, referring to the method of brewing used for making Old Style beer.
Instead of using the traditional bottle of champagne used for launching boats and ships, the reigning Mrs. O, Sandy Cleary, broke a bottle of Old Style onto the float.
Sandy Cleary’s father, Russ Cleary, and grandfather, Roy Kumm, both led the Heileman Brewery in La Crosse for many years.
Fest organizers decided that it was time to improve on the float that the Mrs. Oktoberfest winners had used for 25 years. At the ceremony, attended by many of the past Mrs. Os, Bartels gave a blessing to the float.
“We ask that God bless her and her passengers on their parade journey, and allow them to return safely under your loving care and guidance,” Bartels said, adding that the float is built onto the frame of an old Aquinas school bus.
Mrs. Oktoberfest was added to the fest royal family in 1968, during the first decade of the local fall celebration.
The official fest events for 2023 begin this weekend with the Miss La Crosse-Oktoberfest pageant Saturday night.
The new Festmaster will be introduced publicly on Sept. 27 — the night before this year’s Oktoberfest begins.