Bloody Bin Laden and Merkel Au Naturel Carnival Climaxes at Rose Monday Parades

Celebrations in Germany's carnival-crazed cities of Cologne, Düsseldorf and Mainz reached their apex on Rose Monday, after a weekend of carnival parties. However the fun turned nasty in some European cities, with far-right violence and two deaths.


Germany's boisterous carnival celebrations reached their climax Monday, when the traditional Rose Monday parades were held. Millions of revelers flooded the streets of German cities, especially the Carnival-crazed metropolises of Cologne, Düsseldorf and Mainz, to watch parades featuring marching bands and politically irreverent floats.

In Cologne, the heartland of Germany's carnival, more than a million people watched a parade that included 97 floats and 123 marching bands. The floats in Cologne and Düsseldorf are made of paper maché and themed to lampoon newsmakers and current events. Osama bin Laden took a literal "blood bath" on one float, while a weary and naked German Chancellor Angela Merkel shared a diaper with Kurt Beck, leader of the country's Social Democrats, on another.

Carnival celebrations across Europe began last Thursday. Over the weekend, several raucous gatherings were marred by violence. A 22-year-old man died in Locarno, Switzerland, from injuries he sustained in a fight with three other young men. His assailants, between the ages of 19 and 24, were later apprehended.

And in Glottertal in Germany's Black Forest, a 46-year-old man was killed during a parade on Saturday after he became wedged between a float and the tractor used to pull it.

Also on Saturday, 29 youths in the eastern German town of Apolda attempted to destroy a carnival float. Most of the young people in the group were drunk and many were wearing t-shirts bearing far-right slogans.

Carnival celebration continue on Tuesday, Mardi Gras, and end before the Catholic holiday of Ash Wednesday, which marks the start of Lent.

pmm/dpa/ap

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