LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) – The 2011 Oktoberfest kicked off Friday morning with a parade from the intersection at 22nd Street and Cameron Ave. to the festival grounds.
Bands from various schools in the area, like Holmen Middle School and Logan High School, marched in the procession – as did the royal family from last year's fest.
First-time participants, like Max Koss, said the experience was exciting.
"I've watched the parade other years, but this was my first time in it," said Koss, who plays the saxophone in the Holmen Middle School band. "I always used to see the parade and think that one day I want to be in it."
"It's the best day of the fest in my opinion," said Oktoberfest singer Scott Vehrenkamp.
"It's like Christmas almost," he added.
When the parade reached the Oktoberfest grounds, this year's opening ceremony was held – highlighted by the annual tapping of the Golden Keg.
Mayor Matt Harter gave a brief welcome to the crowd before the beer was poured and passed out to spectators.
"This is such a great, community-oriented time of year," said Joann Edwards, who's been attending Oktoberfest since the mid 1960's. "People can come together, the weather is beautiful, everybody's here having a good time, and the golden keg is the opening."
"It's the start of it all, and everyone gets excited to get Oktoberfest started off on the right foot."
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