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Düsseldorf calls off Carnival parade over severe weather warning

The Düsseldorf Carnival Committee has canceled the city's parade because of the approaching low-pressure system Ruzica. With major carnival city Mainz also calling a rain check, the duties fall to Cologne's revelers.

On Monday, the Düsseldorf Carnival Committee assured that an alternative date for this year's parade would be found as "quickly as possible."

A spokesperson for the committee said that after early-morning discussions the parade could not be authorized with a storm expected.

With Carnival fever set to peak on Monday, parts of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia were expected to see winds of up to 100 kilometers per hour (60 mph).

Thunderstorms and heavy showers with lightning were also expected, but temperatures were expected to stay relatively warm at 10 degrees Celsius (50F).

The severe weather warning also dampened Carnival cheer in other parts of the Rhineland region, with authorities calling off parades in Mainz, Duisburg, Münster and Hagen.

Cologne marches on

In Cologne, city authorities decided to go ahead with Monday's parade, albeit with restrictions. Police banned any large flags, placards or figurines from being used on the floats. Participants were also asked to dismantle any heavy installations on carriages and buildings. Horses, roughly 500 in all, were prohibited from taking part in the procession, too.

"The prognosis hasn't changed since yesterday," said Cologne parade leader Christoph Kuckelkorn early on Monday.

The traditional Rosenmontag, or Rose Monday, parades are widely seen as the pinnacle of the Rhineland's carnival season, with colorful and satirical floats alternating with brass bands and dance troupes. Around half a million people usually turn out to watch their local parade and collect "Kamelle" - sweets and small novelties which are thrown into the crowds.

Carnival, also called the "fifth season" in Germany, is

a traditional period of celebration ahead of the Christian period of abstinence

known as Lent, with a political angle stemming from public criticism of 19th-century French rule in the parts of western Germany where the tradition is most beloved.

ksb/msh (dpa, epd)

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