By Melissa Klaric
Herald Staff Writer
Mother Nature decided to shake up Sharon’s Spring Fling by dumping bucketloads of rain at 4 p.m. Saturday, just as dirndl-wearing dancers lined up for the maypole dance at the Apollo Maennerchor Club.
That didn’t deter the crowd in the upstairs banquet room who enjoyed traditional German food and beer as the rain turned to drizzle and gave way to bright sunshine within the hour.
The May Fest is Germany’s first non-religious holiday of the year, planned right after Easter as a way to “really let loose,” Tony Rickert, 79, head of the club’s German singing group, explained.
To toast the beginning of spring, the club hosted the first maypole dance in the Shenango Valley that 86-year-old Inge Amundsen can remember.
The last time Inge performed the maypole dance was in Germany when she was 12.
Her son, Tom Amundsen, 59, president of the club, said the traditional spring celebration is the first of many German holidays the club will recognize as a way of going back to its roots.
Inge’s daughters, Cindy and Amy, flew in from Tennessee and North Carolina to join in on the festivities, and were excited to be a part of the maypole dance.
Rickert kicked off the celebration with a traditional German toast in which most people in the hall joined.
Inge was eager for the dance to begin, as she had loaned out her dirndl – traditional dress for the maypole dance – to another dancer, having last worn it almost 60 years ago.
Inge said it’s hard to keep up the German traditions from the homeland.
“I’m so proud of Tom” for working to keep the traditions alive, she said of her son.