Summer is over. Everyone knows they are losing their jobs. The few visitors probably got lost on the way to the water park. They're living in northeastern Ohio.
"What I remember most was the music," says Kevin. And no, he's not referring to Crank That by Soulja Boy, the #1 song at the time. He's referring to the traditional Oktoberfest music they wanted playing over the speakers. "I was in charge of it, but they didn't want to spring for anything. My boss told me, 'This is it. It's our last event. We have no money. Do what you can.'"
He did what he could.
"I went to LimeWire, illegally downloaded songs, and we had poor-quality German music coming in. But I didn't know what the drinking songs were, and I didn't have time to go online and make sure, so I downloaded every one I could find. So half were traditional drinking songs, and then the rest was Rammstein, some Monty Python Germany song, and other 'traditional' songs ..."
"... and by 'traditional,' I mean I had put some Nazi songs, like 'Horst-Wessel-Lied,' in there, and didn't know it."
Oh Wait, Oktoberfest Can Actually Be Very, Very Sad
Ohio. The Bush years. An almost totally abandoned amusement park full of silent rides and a bunch of cheap fixes and peeling paint. In the middle of it all is this somewhat-attended Oktoberfest that's only serving the Kevin James of beers. And then, suddenly, this comes on. Sure, after about 24 Bud Lites, it probably kinda sounds like a drinking song. Then someone in attendance who happens to speak the language points out exactly what's being played:
Raise the flag! The ranks tightly closed!
The SA marches with calm, steady step.
Comrades shot by the Red Front and reactionaries
March in spirit within our ranks.
Clear the streets for the brown battalions,
Clear the streets for the storm division!
Millions are looking upon the swastika full of hope,
The day of freedom and of bread dawns!
And then comes "Es zttern die morschen Knochen," a tune that would get you deported from Germany today:
The rotten bones are trembling,
Of the World for the great War.
We have smashed this terror,
For us it was a great victory.
We will continue to march,
When everything shatters;
Because today Germany hears us,
And tomorrow the whole World.
"That's how much we cared at that point," says Kevin. "We allowed songs from Nazi Germany to be played at Oktoberfest. If that happened now, we'd probably be in the news. But then, with our last real event, no one -- not us, not management, and not the customers -- really cared. We shut down after that." In fact, the announcement came from management less than a week later that they would not be opening for the 2008 season.
The part about how this would have wound up on the news today tells you everything you need to know about how the world changed since then. In the next year would come candidate Obama, the Twitter explosion, the collapse of Lehman Brothers ... the seeds of all sorts of resentment and anxiety that would sprout into the chaos we have today. And no one there could have known.
But hey, if you believe you have in fact been to a sadder party than this, feel free to share your story in the comments, and we'll all get depressed together.
Evan V. Symon is an interviewer, journalist and interview finder guy at Cracked. Have an awesome job/experience you'd like to see? Hit us up on the forum today!
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