German group to hold Mardi Gras ball at Carpathia Hall

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published February 19, 2014

Organizers of a major metro Detroit Mardi Gras extravaganza have no intention of being masked when they put on a celebration this March.

The GBU Saxonia-Rheingold Chorus District No. 821 will throw its annual Grand Prize Mardi Gras Ball March 1 at Carpathia Hall in Sterling Heights.

Group President Edith Kuplent explained that the chorus was founded by German immigrants in the 1920s who were affiliated with an insurance union called Greater Beneficial Union. The chorus of men and women and the fraternal organization recently had their 90th anniversary, she said.

She said her Mardi Gras event is one of the only major events of its kind that remain in the area.

“I immigrated in ’58, and there used to be big Mardi Gras balls … but that has all gone for a little bit,” she said. “We have the largest Mardi Gras left here, and we do it at the Carpathia Hall because it’s a nice facility.”

Kuplent said the group wants and needs the general public to come celebrate with them.

“In general, a lot of people, they don’t venture into something different,” she said. “A lot of people, they just do their thing. It’s a wonderful evening.”

Peter Herrmann, the event’s master of ceremonies, said Mardi Gras is also known as Karneval or Fasching in Germany, and as Carnival in different parts of the world. He said the highlights of the Carnival season typically take place the last few days before Ash Wednesday and the Lenten season.

Herrmann said he has been involved with the Sterling Heights festival for around 10 years, and he said the Sterling Heights ball typically draws a crowd of around 350 people.

He said one of the big things that differentiates this celebration from typical Mardi Gras parties is the type of dancing and the music, which is played by a band called The Tradewinds. During the party, people participate in the Polonaise, where participants line up and walk behind each other.

“We walk through the rooms with somebody with a trumpet in front,” he said.

As a costume ball, everyone is encouraged to wear a costume, and some people wear feathered military-style hats, Herrmann explained. Prizes will be given to the best costumes.

The GBU Saxonia-Rheingold Chorus District No. 821 will present its Grand Prize Mardi Gras Ball (Grosser Preis-Maskenball) 7:11 p.m.-1 a.m. March 1 at Carpathia Hall, 38000 Utica Road in Sterling Heights.

Admission is a $20 donation. To RSVP, call (586) 786-5966. For 6 p.m. dinner reservations at additional cost, call (586) 978-2292 by Feb. 26.

A separate Kindermaskenball, or Children’s Masquerade Ball, will be held at noon March 2 at Carpathia Hall. To buy tickets, call (248) 693-9341 or visit