15 February 2021

Germany ekes some fun out of quiet Carnival

15 February 2021

A few Carnival floats poking fun at the likes of Russian President Vladimir Putin and former US president Donald Trump have made their way through the largely empty streets of Dusseldorf in Germany

The event would usually be the site of raucous celebrations but parades, street festivals and other large gatherings have all been cancelled this year.

A carnival reveller rides an electric scooter near the Severinstor gate in Cologne, Germany (AP)
A political carnival float depicting the climate and coronavirus crises is driven in the streets of Duesseldorf (AP)
Kiki Neumann walks in disguise along the route taken by the carnival parade Rosenmontagszug and delivers cangy’s to spectators in Cologne, Germany (AP)

But organisers in Dusseldorf, one of the German Rhineland’s main Carnival strongholds, did not want to let Rose Monday in 2021 go completely without the traditional caricatures of current events.

They sent eight floats through the city – separately, rather than in a parade, and on routes that were kept secret in advance to prevent crowds from gathering.

“It’s a small signal that we’re alive,” float builder Jacques Tilly told the German news agency dpa.

This year’s offerings included a depiction of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny kicking a much larger Mr Putin, both dressed in judo outfits, and a caricature of Mr Trump on a spit over a fire marked with the words “Make America Great Again!”

There was also a float showing the Earth trying to hold off a virus while a monster painted with the word “Climate” rears up behind it.

Another depicted the brain flying out of the head of an activist against coronavirus restrictions.

A political carnival float depicting former US president Donald Trump is pulled through the streets in Duesseldorf, Germany (AP)
A political carnival float depicting conspiracy theorists is rolled out to be shown in Duesseldorf, Germany (AP)
A political carnival float depicting German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her possible successor governor Armin Laschet is rolled out to be shown in the streets of Duesseldorf, Germany (AP)

Armin Laschet, the newly chosen leader of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party and a contender to succeed her after an election in September, was depicted as Mrs Merkel – a reference to the two politicians’ perceived ideological closeness – with the words “Carry on Merkeling with Armin Laschet.”

One of Germany’s first superspreader events stemmed from a Carnival celebration in a town west of Cologne in February 2020, where many people came into contact with an infected man.

This year, authorities are taking no chances, with public consumption of alcohol banned in some places.

Germany has seen more than 65,000 confirmed coronavirus deaths during the pandemic and has just put restrictions on its borders with Austria and the Czech Republic to keep out the new virus variants circulating in those countries.

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