Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Carnival in the Rhineland

After shooting over a dozen Carnival (Mardi Gras) parades in and around Cologne, Germany, in the past six years, I still enjoy the excitement that exudes from the participants and onlookers. In groups or as individuals, the costumed revelers line the streets and sing along with the handful of songs that are played again and again throughout the day.

Some costumes aim to be cool, others to be gross and still others - mostly female participants - want to look cute.

I'm always impressed by small cliques of similarly costumed people. I think about what they went through to decide on and then purchase or make the costumes. When I think about the persuasion needed to make me buy a costume this year, I wonder what the others went through. Were they also as shy about dressing up?

In any case, the full-body suits boded well this year in the windy, wet weather.

Others found even better ways to deal with the rain this year.

Others did not let the weather determine their look.

After the incidents on New Year's Eve around the Cologne Cathedral, with young women being attacked and robbed by groups of "foreign looking" men, the police were omnipresent during this year's Carnival season. Small groups of plain-clothed, dark-haired men were lined up and questioned by the hard-working police force.

As a special precaution or to give women a sense of safety, a security point was set up for women near the cathedral where they could go if they felt they were in need of help.

Normally this tunnel leading into the center of the city is empty except for a few people peeing or puking.

This year they had to go a few steps farther to do that. This young man nearly made it into the portable toilet to rid himself of the light Kölsch beer.

For some inexplicable reason, the kids collected more goodies this year than ever before. They'll never be able to eat it all. Not even my hungry colleagues will be up to the task this year.

So until next year, Köln, I wish you and yours well!