Sunday, March 26, 2006

Ding Dong, Milosevic is dead.

On the same day as Slobodan Milosevic's funeral, thousands of people -- mostly a younger crowd -- assembled in Republic Square with balloons and occasional whistles to celebrate what they hope will be the former president's final exit.

"Spring has come three days early," one of them said.
"We thought we were rid of him on October 5th, 2000," another said. "Then we thought he was gone when he was arrested. Or when he went on trial. Or even when he died, but he still came back. Maybe when they bury him, he'll be gone forever."

There were no leaders or speakers or plans for the rally -- just smiles, cheers, balloons and an upbeat atmosphere filled with smiles and celebrating.

After about an hour, the non-mourners began moving
through the pedestrian-only streets of the old part of Belgrade, past the shops, bookstores and restaurants that normally see a good crowd on a Saturday afternoon.

At the other end of the popular walkway, the crowd of several thousand walked through the park and into the grounds of the historic fortress of Kalemegdon where the Sava and Danube rivers meet.

Every so often, like "the wave" at a sporting event, someone would raise a balloon and cheer loudly and the cheer would grow and move down the column .

The cheerful non-mourners crossed ancient footbridges and passed through tunnels and passageways until they reached the top at the base of the famous statue that stands as a symbolic sentry for a city that never seems to rest long from centuries of wars and conflicts.

There was a party atmosphere there at the top as the afternoon clouds overflowed and sent a gentle drizzle down upon the crowd. It wasn't enough for most people to notice -- much less be concerned with.

There was no script of what to do next, so people started sending their balloon into the air. When they'd come down, they'd thump them into the air again like a beach ball at Dodger stadium. Then, the popping began and people walked peacefully home. Posted by Picasa

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