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Berlin's first Carnival in decades draws more than 100,000 people

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February 26, 2001 


BERLIN- (AP) - The new capital Berlin looked more like the old capital Bonn on Sunday when more than 100,000 people turned out for the city's first Carnival parade in decades, signalling the successful import of a Rhineland tradition.

Leading politicians such as Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer stayed away from the event, but that didn't stop them from being targeted for parody on one of the 60 parade floats with large photographs showing them holding bottles or beer glasses.

There was also an eastern German touch to the procession that began at the Brandenburg Gate and traveled through eastern Berlin: An escort of Trabants, the tiny cars produced by East Germany.

Cologne is generally considered the center of Germany's Carnival frolicking, and hundreds of thousands gathered in the western city Sunday for the nearly 7-kilometer (4.4-mile) parade there.

In Berlin, carnival processions were only sporadically celebrated in the late 19th century and the last known parade was in the 1950s - before the Berlin Wall was built.

Organizers want to change that and turn Berlin into a Carnival city again, along with the help of the 25,000 government workers who have moved from the Rhineland to the capital.

The founder of the Berlin parade organization, Harald Grunert, argued Sunday that Carnival also was a tradition in Berlin in Prussian times.

"It's not bringing the Carnival from the Rhineland, but resurrecting an old tradition," he said.

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