With extra police, Cologne women revel in carnival after attacks

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon

23 PHOTOS
Carnival in Cologne, Germany
See Gallery
With extra police, Cologne women revel in carnival after attacks
A reveller jokes next to a police officer during the start of the street carnival in Cologne, Germany, on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016. After a string of robberies and sexual assaults on New Year's Eve in the city that police say were committed largely by foreigners, German authorities are keen to avoid a repeat of those events during the five-day street party. ( AP Photo/Martin Meissner
Female reveller dressed as police officers arrive to the start of the street carnival in Cologne, Germany, on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016. After a string of robberies and sexual assaults on New Year's Eve in the city that police say were committed largely by foreigners, German authorities are keen to avoid a repeat of those events during the five-day street party. ( AP Photo/Martin Meissner
Police patrols in front of the main station during the start of the street carnival in Cologne, Germany, on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016. After a string of robberies and sexual assaults on New Year's Eve in the city that police say were committed largely by foreigners, German authorities are keen to avoid a repeat of those events during the five-day street party. ( AP Photo/Martin Meissner
A reveller gets a kiss during the start of the street carnival in Cologne, Germany, on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016. After a string of robberies and sexual assaults on New Year's Eve in the city that police say were committed largely by foreigners, German authorities are keen to avoid a repeat of those events during the five-day street party. ( AP Photo/Martin Meissner
Police patrols in front of the main station during the start of the street carnival in Cologne, Germany, on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016. After a string of robberies and sexual assaults on New Year's Eve in the city that police say were committed largely by foreigners, German authorities are keen to avoid a repeat of those events during the five-day street party. ( AP Photo/Martin Meissner
Female revellers talk to police during the start of the street carnival in Cologne, Germany, on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016. After a string of robberies and sexual assaults on New Year's Eve in the city that police say were committed largely by foreigners, German authorities are keen to avoid a repeat of those events during the five-day street party. ( AP Photo/Martin Meissner
A reveler dressed as a storm trooper accompanies a woman during the start of the street carnival in Cologne, Germany, on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016. After a string of robberies and sexual assaults on New Year's Eve in the city that police say were committed largely by foreigners, German authorities are keen to avoid a repeat of those events during the five-day street party. ( AP Photo/Martin Meissner
Security checks a traditional reveler in front of a pub during the start of the street carnival in Cologne, Germany, on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016. After a string of robberies and sexual assaults on New Year's Eve in the city that police say were committed largely by foreigners, German authorities are keen to avoid a repeat of those events during the five-day street party. ( AP Photo/Martin Meissner
A reveller talks to police during the start of the street carnival in Cologne, Germany, on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016. After a string of robberies and sexual assaults on New Year's Eve in the city that police say were committed largely by foreigners, German authorities are keen to avoid a repeat of those events during the five-day street party. ( AP Photo/Martin Meissner
A police helicopter flies near the Cologne cathedral during the start of the street carnival in Cologne, Germany, on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016. After a string of robberies and sexual assaults on New Year's Eve in the city that police say were committed largely by foreigners, German authorities are keen to avoid a repeat of those events during the five-day street party. ( AP Photo/Martin Meissner
A female reveller celebrates in front of the cathedral during the start of the street carnival in Cologne, Germany, on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016. After a string of robberies and sexual assaults on New Year's Eve in the city that police say were committed largely by foreigners, German authorities are keen to avoid a repeat of those events during the five-day street party. ( AP Photo/Martin Meissner
COLOGNE, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 4: Colognes mayor Henriette Reker (C) wearing costumes poses during Women's Carnival Day as part of the Fifth Season Carnival in Cologne, Germany on February 4, 2016. Women's Carnival Day is the day when you get to experience the Carnival in its traditional form. Early in the morning, the streets are alive with ladies in fancy-dress on their way to the office, their place of work or to shops, and from 10.00 a.m. they all head towards the Alter Markt. (Photo by Mesut Zeyrek/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
COLOGNE, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 4: Women in costumes pose during Women's Carnival Day as part of the Fifth Season Carnival in Cologne, Germany on February 4, 2016. Women's Carnival Day is the day when you get to experience the Carnival in its traditional form. Early in the morning, the streets are alive with ladies in fancy-dress on their way to the office, their place of work or to shops, and from 10.00 a.m. they all head towards the Alter Markt. (Photo by Mesut Zeyrek/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
COLOGNE, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 04: Carnival revellers party during Weiberfastnacht celebrations as part of the carnival season on February 4, 2016 in Cologne, Germany. Carnival partying and parades, a centuries-old tradition in western and southwestern Germany, traditionally goes from today until Ash Wednesday on February 10 and culminates in Rose Monday on February 8. Police are on added alert this year, particularly in Cologne, due to the New Year`s Eve sex attacks on women that have been attributed to gangs of North African men, predominantly from Algeria and Morocco. Police have created safe areas and brought in additional lighting for poorly-lit streets. (Photo by Volker Hartmann/Getty Images)
COLOGNE, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 04: Female revellers pass a crowd of Policemen during Weiberfastnacht celebrations as part of the carnival season on February 4, 2016 in Cologne, Germany. Carnival partying and parades, a centuries-old tradition in western and southwestern Germany, traditionally goes from today until Ash Wednesday on February 10 and culminates in Rose Monday on February 8. Police are on added alert this year, particularly in Cologne, due to the New Year`s Eve sex attacks on women that have been attributed to gangs of North African men, predominantly from Algeria and Morocco. Police have created safe areas and brought in additional lighting for poorly-lit streets. (Photo by Volker Hartmann/Getty Images)
COLOGNE, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 04: Carnival revellers joke with Policemen from Berlin during Weiberfastnacht celebrations as part of the carnival season on February 4, 2016 in Cologne, Germany. Carnival partying and parades, a centuries-old tradition in western and southwestern Germany, traditionally goes from today until Ash Wednesday on February 10 and culminates in Rose Monday on February 8. Police are on added alert this year, particularly in Cologne, due to the New Year`s Eve sex attacks on women that have been attributed to gangs of North African men, predominantly from Algeria and Morocco. Police have created safe areas and brought in additional lighting for poorly-lit streets. (Photo by Volker Hartmann/Getty Images)
Masqueraded revellers celebrate the launch of the so-called 'Fifth Season', the carnival season, on Feruary 4, 2016 in Cologne, western Germany. Germany's carnival season kicks off with increased security in Cologne, a city rocked by a rash of reported sexual assaults blamed on migrants. The festivities begin with 'Weiberfastnacht', a raucous street party in which women snip off men's ties. / AFP / PATRIK STOLLARZ (Photo credit should read PATRIK STOLLARZ/AFP/Getty Images)
COLOGNE, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 04: Female revellers take pictures during 'Weiberfastnacht' celebrations as part of the carnival season on February 4, 2016 in Cologne, Germany. Carnival partying and parades, a centuries-old tradition in western and southwestern Germany, traditionally goes from today until Ash Wednesday on February 10 and culminates in Rose Monday on February 8. Police are on added alert this year, particularly in Cologne, due to the New Year's Eve sex attacks on women that have been attributed to gangs of North African men, predominantly from Algeria and Morocco. Police have created safe areas and brought in additional lighting for poorly-lit streets. (Photo by Volker Hartmann/Getty Images)
A carnival reveler dressed as a clown plays a drum on a bench in front of the homeless persons in Cologne, Germany, Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015. Tens of thousands of carnival supporters celebrate the traditional beginning of the carnival season in Germany. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
A police man walks next to jesters near the main station on February 4, 2016 in Cologne, western Germany. Germany's carnival season kicks off with increased security in Cologne, a city rocked by a rash of reported sexual assaults blamed on migrants. The festivities begin with 'Weiberfastnacht', a raucous street party in which women snip off men's ties. / AFP / PATRIK STOLLARZ (Photo credit should read PATRIK STOLLARZ/AFP/Getty Images)
COLOGNE, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 04: Carneval revellers drink as they celebrate in Essen Central Station on their way to Cologne during Weiberfastnacht celebrations as part of the carnival season on February 4, 2016 in Essen, Germany. Carnival partying and parades, a centuries-old tradition in western and southwestern Germany, traditionally goes from today until Ash Wednesday on February 10 and culminates in Rose Monday on February 8. Police are on added alert this year, particularly in Cologne, due to the New Years Eve sex attacks on women that have been attributed to gangs of North African men, predominantly from Algeria and Morocco. Police have created safe areas and brought in additional lighting for poorly-lit streets. (Photo by Volker Hartmann/Getty Images)
COLOGNE, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 04: Carnival revellers celebrate in a Train to Cologne during Weiberfastnacht celebrations as part of the carnival season on February 4, 2016 in Cologne, Germany. Carnival partying and parades, a centuries-old tradition in western and southwestern Germany, traditionally goes from today until Ash Wednesday on February 10 and culminates in Rose Monday on February 8. Police are on added alert this year, particularly in Cologne, due to the New Year's Eve sex attacks on women that have been attributed to gangs of North African men, predominantly from Algeria and Morocco. Police have created safe areas and brought in additional lighting for poorly-lit streets. (Photo by Volker Hartmann/Getty Images)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

COLOGNE, Germany, Feb 4 (Reuters) - Undeterred by sexual attacks blamed on migrants on New Year's Eve, German women in clown costumes and bright wigs kicked off six days of carnival celebrations in Cologne on Thursday amid unusually heavy security.

Some 2,000 police were on duty, about double last year's number, after fierce criticism of the small force that was helpless on Dec. 31 when gangs of men - many said to be North African migrants - sexually attacked and robbed women revelers.

Floodlights and video cameras were installed in the center of the Rhineland city and sales of pepper spray cans were brisk before Weiberfastnacht (women's carnival), the traditional day when women take over their towns and symbolically castrate men by cutting off their ties.

A security point has been set up outside the twin-spired cathedral for women who feel threatened. Teams of people have been deployed around town to register any complaints.

"I don't think we should hold back. I think this is the safest carnival we've had for years and it'll never be this safe again," said Janina Lange, dressed as a brown cat with a painted face, in front of Cologne's landmark Gothic cathedral.

There were fewer "Jecken" (revelers) out in central Cologne on Thursday afternoon than last year, but rain may have kept some away. While it's traditionally the women's day for the festivities, there were many men in the crowd as well.

The attacks on women at New Year in Cologne and other cities exposed fears about the integration of the 1.1 million migrants who arrived last year, plus more this year, and about a possible clash of cultures with the mostly Muslim newcomers.

The federal BKA police was quoted by Die Welt daily as saying further sexual attacks were possible.

"We cannot be sure ... that the higher sensibility and tougher security measures will prevent a repeat of what happened previously," die Welt quoted a BKA analysis as saying, adding there was no higher risk of an Islamist attack at carnival.

In an attempt to explain to migrants the significance of German carnival, a highlight of the year in the country's mostly Catholic regions, local authorities have provided information pamphlets on it in languages including Arabic.

The festival is called the 'fifth season' in the Rhineland.

Alcohol-fueled parties with fancy dress, popular songs and dancing continue over the weekend, culminating in Rose Monday parades when floats roll through the streets of Cologne and other Rhineland cities such as Mainz and Duesseldorf.

Last year, about 1.5 million people turned out in Cologne for the parade, which features gaudy satirical floats poking fun at local and national politicians.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is losing popular support over her open-door refugee policy, is bound to be a target when the floats are unveiled on Monday.

In an unusual display of unruliness, revelers symbolically storm town halls and chase mayors out of their offices.

"It is important that we don't have our fun taken away. Our carnival is our tradition and we must celebrate it just as we have done before" said Bjoern Braun, clad in a bright green, red and gold military uniform and hat in Cologne city center.

Carnival dates back to ancient times when the Germanic tribes celebrated it to chase away winter demons. Later, it was linked to the Christian festival of Lent, which starts next Wednesday.

The festive eating and drinking mark the final days before Christian start 40 days of fasting in the run-up to Easter. (Reporting by Reuters TV; Writing by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Tom Heneghan)


Cologne Kicks Over Carnival Season Amid Security Fears
More from AOL.com:
First national poll since Iowa is bad news for 1 hopeful
Snow to brush Philadelphia to NYC, Boston at late week
Parent upset over transgender student using boys' locker room
Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners