imagine my horror upon arriving home from our first krampuslauf philadelphia in 2011 to find that a family we’d never met had driven to philly FROM STATEN ISLAND, and had gotten there too late for lauf and MISSED it.
oh god oh god oh god. i immediately packed up a bunch of stuff we had made at our maker workshop, and every little krampus gewgaw i could find, in apology.
it worked! they came back again! and again! they drove in a blizzard to get to us and almost died! and they came back AGAIN!
and we have done SO many things with sam moon rafferty and her family in between all the krampuslaufs we have had. we have seen charles dickens’ taxidermied crow! we have seen the brood two cicada invasion of staten island! sam and her daughter have driven FROM STATEN ISLAND to come to the kids’ circus camp shows!
they are our family now. it was just that easy!
here is sam, talking to ben. make no mistake, she tries to end this interview by saying “i can’t take any more questions, i have to go nurse a possum.”
listen to the conversation as it is embedded below, or on soundcloud.
BL: So I’m Ben Levin, and I’m talking with Sam Rafferty, and welcome!
SR: Hi. Thank you.
BL: So let me start off with a simple question: How long have you been attending Krampuslauf Philadelphia?
SR: Well, technically I’ve been to all of them, but the first time we got stuck in traffic and got there so late that we missed it, so we were at Liberty Lands but no one was there. So I’ve been there, with actual people there, since the second one.
BL: And what do you view as your personal role at Krampuslauf Philadelphia?
SR: I have somehow adopted the role of leading Claudia (Ben and Amber’s daughter) around… though I think she leads me.
BL: Do you dress up, do you take pictures?
SR: Krampuslauf has amazing, amazing artists so it actually can be a little bit intimidating ‘cause I’m more of a costume assembler than a costume maker. But I do come in some kind of costume. It’s not a lot, but, some horns – I have a skeleton that I’ve turned into a Krampus skeleton that I wear on my back… I bring my kids, they wear horns, my son plays the drum in the procession.
BL: What were your worst expectations, going into it?
SR: I have a long history of doing zombie crawls, and I’ve watched zombie crawls very slowly turn from a family-friendly, monster-loving event, to bar crawls – with the equivalent of frat boys and monster makeup. And that was my fear going to Krampuslauf, that it was going to really, you know, kinda be like a drinking party, and… juvenile. But it was so much more incredible than I even anticipated. It’s magic, it really is.
BL: What were your highest, best expectations for the event?
SR: Before I went, I was just hoping it would be friendly and you know, people would be into the story of Krampus and know as much about Krampus as I did, but as it turns out, I didn’t know nearly enough about Krampus! In my circle, I was kinda the only Krampus-celebrator, so I seemed to have all the knowledge, but then I met you guys. And I realized I knew very little.
BL: What was one of the things you remember learning first that was a surprise to you?
SR: I think all of the other characters that show up at the Lauf, representing different folklore.
BL: What for you was the most memorable moment of attending Krampuslauf Philadelphia?
SR: The year before last, my son who lives in Florida actually flew in to be able to attend with us. And we got there, and it started to snow. And anything I’d ever seen before Krampuslauf in America, anything I’d ever seen of Krampuslauf was in Austria, where it’s usually snowy and cold. And we got out of the car, and it was snowing, and the costumes were lit up, and there was a fire going, and it was – it was just unbelievably breathtaking. It felt like you were in Austria. It was beautiful. That was my definite favorite moment.
BL: For you, Krampuslauf Philadelphia will always…
SR: … be something I look forward to, and love to attend.
BL: Krampuslauf Philadelphia will never…
SR: … be a bar crawl.
BL: Is there anything else about the event that you think is really important for people to know, that is something that you don’t think other people would necessarily notice at first?
SR: I think it’s important for people to realize that it is a family-friendly event. You know, people see horns and immediately assume it’s too scary for the children. But there’s a lot of kids. And like I said the costumes can be intimidating to people that aren’t artists – that aren’t able to pull that amazing stuff together – but people are so friendly, and so willing to share things, and share ideas… it really is, a little family. Or a bigger and bigger family, as every year passes, actually.
BL: Is there anything else you want to add?
SR: No, I can’t take any more questions, I have to nurse a possum…. Oh, that’s something I should have added. Is that we really have a Krampuslauf family with you guys.
BL: That’s what it’s all about.
SR: Yeah. That first year, I knew it was gonna be good, that year that we missed it. You and Amber sent us a package of stuff, and we hadn’t even met each other in person yet, and I said, “These are good people.”