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Despite an ongoing terror threat in Europe and the sexual assaults that took place on New Year's Eve in Cologne, Germany, thousands of people showed up Saturday in St. Mark's Square for the grand opening of the Venice Carnival, The Associated Press reported.
Officials have stepped up security throughout the city but decided against a proposal to ban masks at the pre-Lenten festival, which essentially revolves around people dressing up in fancy costumes and hand-painted masks, according to AP.
READ MORE: Security to Increase on Cross-Border European Trains After Thwarted Terror Attack
Venice police chief Angelo Sanna told AP that authorities thoughtfully considered the issue before coming to the conclusion that masks would be allowed "because Carnival is the masks. It is difficult to have Carnival without them."
Sanna told AP that law enforcement officials would check the identities of Carnival-goers wearing masks and would keep an eye on visitors throughout the city.
READ MORE: Carnival Is Coming to Europe
The Carnival is set to run through Feb. 9, AP said.
Amy Coyne Bredeson is a freelance writer and editor in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. She has worked in journalism for the...
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