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Revelers celebrate street Carnival across German Rhineland


BERLIN (AP) — Tens of thousands of revelers danced in the streets of Cologne, Duesseldorf, Bonn and other cities and towns across the Rhineland Thursday as they celebrated the traditional start of Carnival in Germany.

Dressed up in bright colors and creative costumes, they sang loudly and swayed to familiar tunes of brass bands and folklore music, and drank lots of beer.

It is the first time since the start of the pandemic that Carnival is being celebrated in Germany without any coronavirus restrictions.

The first day of Carnival in Germany is also traditionally dedicated to women taking over the power in city halls across the Rhineland for a day. They symbolically take away the keys from the — mostly male — mayors, and cut off men's ties and shoelaces in return for kisses.

In Duesseldorf, costumed elderly women known as Moehnen stormed city hall at 11:11 a.m, German news agency dpa reported.

“For two years you had your peace, but today it's all about women power. We want the power,” shouted Carnival princess Uasa Maisch. “We’ll cut off your ties. You’re in for it. We want in.”

In Cologne alone, tens of thousands of people were expected for the festivities. Police deployed more than 2,000 officers, and the interior minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, where Cologne is located, warned revelers not to drink too much “Koelsch” — the typical, honey-colored beer of Cologne.

“Everyone should know when there’s been enough Koelsch," Herbert Reul told Cologne daily paper Koelner Stadt-Anzeiger.

At the same time, the minister acknowledged that “it’s all the more important that there are these days when you can switch off for a few hours and put your worries aside” when concern about war and inflation are on many people's minds most of the time.

Around noontime, Cologne police blocked off the Zuelpicher Viertel neighborhood because it was overflowing with people, dpa reported. No more revelers were allowed to enter the district close to the city's main university that's dotted with many popular bars and pubs.