By Col. Christopher M. Benson, Franconia Military Community and USAG Ansbach commanderSeptember 19, 2013
ANSBACH, Germany (Sept 19, 2013) -- The 180th München Oktoberfest runs from Sept. 21 through Oct. 6. The world's largest Volksfest has something for everyone young and seasoned alike.
Oktoberfest has the traditional Bavarian cuisine to sample and a variety of alcoholic beverages, and, for the young of heart, there are amusement rides. There's also music, singing and dancing. Oktoberfest is an event you don't want to miss.
Held since 1810, Oktoberfest is an important, long-established part of Bavarian culture. Other cities across the world hold Oktoberfest celebrations modeled after the München's event. The fest provides new arrivals to Germany the opportunity to immerse themselves into Bavarian culture, meet new friends, and have fun. I encourage everyone to take advantage of the opportunity to attend this historic event. However, to ensure a safe and fun time, be sure to properly plan ahead.
Whether you plan on going with your unit, a club or friends, if you plan on sampling the various alcoholic beverages make reservations before you leave to stay in a local hotel, take a taxi to the nearest public transportation service, or have a designated driver. There is no good reason to drink and drive.
Don't participate in drinking contests. If you are traveling with friends, watch out for each other. It's not about how many alcoholic beverages you consume, it's about the camaraderie.
Keep in the mind that huge crowds mixed with alcohol can be a recipe for trouble. If you travel with small children, make sure you keep them close, hold their hands, and dress them so that you can easily spot them in a crowd should they become separated. In case someone gets separated or lost, have a meeting spot for everyone to go to at a certain time. This should be someplace everyone can remember, like right in front of a specific game, ride or stand.
If you'd like someone else to do the driving, U.S. Army Garrison Ansbach's Outdoor Recreation, or ODR, is offering a one-day trip Sept. 28, and they still have slots available. If your work schedule allows, take advantage of the Morale, Welfare and Recreation shuttle bus and leave the driving to MWR personnel. To learn more, call Ansbach ODR at 09802-83-3225 or DSN 467-3225.
USAG Bamberg's ODR also offers a one-day trip from 7 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Sept. 21. Slots are still available. To learn more, call Bamberg ODR at 0951-300-9376 or DSN 469-9376.
Remember you are American ambassadors assigned or stationed here on behalf of the United States and our Army -- have fun, stay safe and behave appropriately. If you do drink, drink responsibly.
For more information on Oktoberfest, visit www.oktoberfest.de/en/.