THE FAMILY GET-TOGETHER.

For tourists far and wide, Berlin has long been one of the world’s premier party hotspots. And Berliners themselves certainly know how to have a good time. Indeed, the members of the BMW drivers’ club La Familia did themselves proud once again this year at their annual get-together. The motto for this most successful of family get-togethers was “relaxed, but never boring”. Three hundred visitors and glorious weather showed their approval.

Ralf Schwarz is the club president and a down-to-earth kind of guy. A single meeting is enough to lodge him in your memory. After all, Ralf is nothing if not distinctive. This tattooed bear of a man tends to turn heads, but his friendly and helpful manner also surprises those who may have made their minds up about him a little prematurely. He steers the good ship La Familia, and therefore the club’s annual meet-up, with his wife Sandra Schwarz-Wittig. Anyone who has organised something similar will have an idea of what it involves: a lot of hard work. Luckily, the couple can rely on the help of Familia friends.

Family ties

La Familia by name, a family by nature. All fans of the brand are welcome here – drivers of BMWs wild and tame alike. This was the first BMW drivers’ club to be founded in Berlin, and that was certainly one reason why La Familia met with such a warm reception from day one. Once a year the club members get together for a good old-fashioned knees-up. But partying alone is not enough; this event is also about raising a glass to those the spotlight sometimes neglects, such as the kids at the Sonnenhof children’s hospice run by the Björn Schulz Foundation.

Let’s meet again!

There is more to any successful meeting than a car park and sausage stand. It all begins with the weather, and for that you need a little luck of course. La Familia enjoyed such good fortune this year in the form of glorious sunshine and 25 degrees Celsius. The site provided by the company Deeg for the event was just the right size and there was something on the wide-ranging programme of entertainment for everyone – young or old. The show line-up, which included the talents of a beatboxer, was given a rapturous reception by an insatiable crowd.

A bouncy castle, face-painting and many other attractions enjoyed great popularity among the younger visitors, and the giant road-style play mat – supplied by BMW dealer Riller & Schnauck – was perfect for zooming bobby cars and remote-control model cars around. Unsurprisingly, the “wheel-lifting” competition was won by a large hulk of a man, but his limelight was stolen by a four-year-old whipper-snapper. With a steely determination to show the grown-ups how it was done, he clung defiantly onto his wheel until his status as crowd favourite was assured. Nobody was more proud to be taking their first trophy home with them that night.

The gift of happiness

A very special highlight of La Familia’s summer get-together was a visit from six children from the Sonnenhof children’s hospice run by the Björn Schulz Foundation – an exercise in putting smiles on faces if ever there was one. Topping the bill, in case there was any doubt, were the rides in some rather special cars – such as a fast M4, an exquisite E36 Convertible, a sporty Z4 and even a Lamborghini. WerbeManne handed out La Familia T-shirts to all the children and Tedy from EinZigArtig stitched together M cushions for the youngsters as well. The assembled parents looked almost as happy as the kids themselves.

BMW Team Mittelhessen, meanwhile, had spent the whole year collecting donations, which meant they were able to present the Sonnenhof hospice with a cheque for more than €500. It was a special moment for all involved. And the money continued to pour in over the course of the day, thanks not least to contributions by the likes of a very generous Mr Schmid, who brought along various lifestyle products for an auction, and M design bonnet clips donated by a saddlery. When all was said and done, a record €2,379.04 had been raised for Sonnenhof.

And the winner is…

This was one of those days when everyone who turned up was a winner, but it was still nice to be given a prize. One of the stars of the show this time around was the ladies’ trophy shaped like a golden high-heel, which was presented to the driver of a lovingly pimped E36 compact. And that was just one of an impressive spectrum of models on display – some beautiful and fine, some very wide and very low, but all as individual as their proud owners.

The verdict

Over 300 visitors had a whale of a time on this sunny Saturday, taking the chance to live out their love for the BMW brand once again and to share it with fellow enthusiasts. This was a very special kind of family occasion, one that only La Familia could put together.