Around three-and-a-half years ago....24 July 2010....we had a parade of sorts here in Germany. Parades come and go.....most happen around February and March for the festive season. This particular parade on that July day.....was the Love Parade.....held in Duisburg, Germany.
For an American, a description of the Love Parade is probably necessary. The original Love Parade was held in old West Berlin, in the summer of 1989. There were basically three themes to the Parade. There was the techno music deal.....which ran from one end of the parade to the other end. There was ecstasy usage by a fair number of the parade participants.....which kinda fell into the general population of techno music lovers. And finally, there was the gay theme. It's safe to say that it was a weird parade that ninety percent of all Germans probably would not be attending.
Germans tend to say that the original Love Parade in 1989....probably had around two hundred attendees. Yeah, it wasn't much of a parade. Some would say it was more of a local protest than an actual fest or parade.
Well, things grew. Around the late 1990s.....the city of Berlin now began to note almost a million attendees. City officials were divided over the Love Parade. It brought out some business....but you had the city tied up in a massive traffic jam for an entire day. And the techno and ecstasy theme probably wasn't appreciated very much. Some political groups supported the parade....mostly because of the gay theme and the general public view of an "innocent" parade.
Somewhere in 2002....folks began to notice fewer attendees. No one really speculates much on why....but it was more than apparent in 2003....that the thrill was lessening. Berlin city residents had become negative about the episode. And it's safe to say that the standard support that the Love Parade planners had from political parties....by 2003....it was evaporating. Holding the parade in Berlin....wasn't going to be practical.
For 2005 and 2006....there was no parade....because of issues with the city and the poor planning efforts seen by the Parade leaders. So, evolution came to the Love Parade....and it moved to the Ruhr region of Germany (north Germany). In 2007, the parade brought in over one million attendees and was back at the full power level.
Things looked bright for the parade....2008 brought the highest ever number of attendees.....going close to 1.5 million people in attendance. You would think that things were back on track but planning in 2009 was fairly screwed up and the parade got cancelled.
2010 was supposed to be the big comeback for the Love Parade....to be held in Duisburg. Folks were expecting a minimum of one million to show up.
Somewhere in the midst of the things that day of the Duisburg parade.....an overflowing crowd stampeded themselves into a tunnel area.....twenty-one people died and over five hundred were injured in some fashion. No one could remember an parade in the history of Germany....turning into such a mess.
News teams went live, and carried the action of ambulance crews working hard to save lives and recover the victims.
Naturally, the cops and authorities stepped in. Everyone settled down into a blame game. It's reasonable to say that no one felt responsible for the mess.
So, three and a half years have passed. This week....the Duisburg authorities are now preparing a case of sorts....against some individuals....for bad planning which triggered the deaths to occur.
The news media believes around a dozen individuals will face charges. Most of them are connected to the planning committee of the Love Parade. It's suggested that a couple of city employees are also going to be dragged into court.
I doubt that anyone wants to say with any confidence that a guilty situation will be found for some of these people. Good lawyers, limited evidence, and unexpected high numbers of attendees will be a cornerstone of the case in court.
The Love Parade ended that day....24 July 2010. There hasn't been any suggestion of another parade. I doubt if any city in Germany would contemplate allowing such a parade to occur again. Most will likely say that a limited participant parade (less than 200,000)....is about the only way that they'd agree to such a thing. The bonds required? If you were the planning committee....you'd face a hefty issue of a city bond required, and need a fair amount of cash which isn't always possible with such parades.
Maybe in twenty years....the Love Parade episode will be forgotten, and maybe there will be some rebirth of the Love Parade....on a much smaller scale. For an American....to imagine a million folks showing up.....mostly high on ecstasy, sipping a fair amount of wine and beer, dancing to throbbing techno music, dressed in the barest essentials of clothing, engaged in acts of nature on the street or in city parks, and gay....well.....it's a parade of an unusual nature.