DUESSELDORF, Germany >> A few Carnival floats poking fun at the likes of Russian President Vladimir Putin, former U.S. President Donald Trump, German politicians and the fight against coronavirus made their way today through the largely empty streets of Duesseldorf, which would usually be the site of raucous celebrations.
Parades, street festivals and other large gatherings have all been cancelled this year.
But organizers in Duesseldorf, one of the German Rhineland’s main Carnival strongholds, didn’t 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 Putin, both dressed in judo outfits, and a caricature of 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.
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 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 over 65,000 confirmed coronavirus deaths during the pandemic and just put restrictions on its borders with Austria and the Czech Republic to keep out the new virus variants circulating in those countries.