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Revellers can drink to Street Parade's success

Dancers take to the "love mobiles" during last year's Street Parade

(Keystone)

Up to one million people are expected in Zurich this weekend for the city’s annual Street Parade.

But organisers have been criticised for allowing alcohol to be sold for the first time in the event’s 13-year history.

Makeshift bars along the parade route have been given permission to sell beer to participants and spectators.

The Swiss Institute for the Prevention of Alcohol and Drug Addiction has criticised the move, and is also questioning a decision by event organisers to accept sponsorship from a beer producer.

“When the weather is hot, alcohol increases the risk of heart attacks, accidents and violence,” the institute said in a statement.

But Street Parade organisers say participants consume alcohol every year, which they either bring from home or purchase in the city’s restaurants.

Spokesman Stefan Epli says he does not believe that alcohol abuse will be a problem at this year’s event.

Main event

Last year an estimated 900,000 spectators and dancers from all over the world lined the parade route.

As in previous years, Swiss Federal Railways has organised extra trains to take ravers to Zurich from all over the country.

Epli said the annual parade was as popular as ever with techno fans of all ages.

“There have always been young and old participants, but most of the diehard fans are between 18 and 35,” he told swissinfo.

This year's parade is dubbed "Elements of culture", said Epli, because “Techno music has earned its place on the cultural scene".

"This parade honours the artists who brought us this form of music. Electronic music is now a recognised form of expression.”

Humble beginnings

The first Street Parade was staged in 1992 and attracted 1,500 people. But over the past decade it has grown to become one of the biggest outdoor parties in Europe.

More than 30 floats – one-third of them from outside Switzerland - are expected on the streets of Zurich on Saturday.

For the first time, a so-called “solar float” will join them. The float is part of a campaign for renewable energy organised by the environmental organisation, Greenpeace.

Street Parade organisers do not expect numbers to swell this year following the cancellation of the annual Love Parade in the German capital, Berlin.

“The real enthusiasts have usually attended both events. And other people wouldn’t make such a long trip,” said Epli.

He added that the success of the parade would depend on the weather. Two years ago numbers fell to half a million when the procession became a rain-soaked dance through the streets.

Safe clubs

The festivities will not end with the parade itself. Many clubs in the city are expected to pound to the techno beat throughout the weekend.

A group of ten bars and clubs in Zurich will be offering party-goers free water, ear protection and condoms as part of a new “Safer Clubbing” campaign.

Staff in these clubs have been trained by specialists in the prevention of drug addiction and Aids.

The initiative was developed in collaboration with experts from the Zurich-based drug prevention project, Streetwork.

According to Streetwork, drugs commonly consumed during and after the parade include ecstasy, cannabis and cocaine.

Staff will be on hand inside the clubs to help ravers check the content of their pills, while the Institute for the Prevention of Alcohol and Drug Addiction will be operating a telephone hotline to answer drug-related questions.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

The first Street Parade attracted 1,500 people in 1992.
But over the past decade it has grown to become one of the biggest outdoor events, generating SFr150 million for the local economy.
The Parade has a total budget of SFr1.2 million.
Bars with the "Safer Clubbing" logo offer free water, ear protection, condoms, and information on alcohol and drug addiction.
Ecstasy hotline: 0800 620 620

end of infobox

In brief

Up to one million people are expected to pour on to the streets of Zurich this weekend for the city’s annual Street Parade.

But organisers have been criticised for allowing alcohol to be sold for the first time in the event’s 13-year history.

Makeshift bars along the parade route have been given permission to sell alcohol.

end of infobox


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