Some 2,000 people begin the carnival season with an icy 'baptism' in the Danube river. Diane Hodges reports.
Swimmers gather at the Danube river in Neuberg, Germany to take the plunge into carnival season. Some 2-thousand people donned wet suits to take a four-kilometer swim. About forty more jumped in weather only swimsuits. This year the temperature is mild -- 50 degrees Fahrenheit, 10 degrees celsius. (SOUNDBITE) (German) SWIMMER, EVA MUELLER, SAYING: "It's not cold, it's not cold! There's no wind." (SOUNDBITE) (German) SWIMMER, SOPHIA GELL, SAYING: "It's just great. It's addictive, you have to join in every year." The annual festival is now in its 47th year and attracts thousands of people, for watching and for dunking, including Neuberg Mayor Bernhard Gmehling. (SOUNDBITE) (German) NEUBURG MAYOR, BERNHARD GMEHLING, SAYING: "It's such a hoot, it's great fun getting over 2,000 crazy people to jump into the Danube in the middle of winter. It's the biggest winter carnival parade on the water in the whole of Europe. People come from all over Germany and abroad." At the end of the course, the swimmers are not rewarded with an icy Bavarian beer, but with a hot cup of soup. The icy parade and swim marks the beginning of carnival season in Neuberg, so you could say these swimmers are paying for their sins before they commit them.