BERLIN, Nov. 9 (UPI) -- A unified Germany celebrated the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on Sunday with lights, balloons, music and memories.
Hundreds of thousands of people turned out to mark the day in ways both festive and somber.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel marked the day with a 10 a.m. trumpet call, evoking the biblical horns that brought down the wall of Jericho. She later laid a rose at the Berlin Wall Memorial.
Some 8,000 illuminated white balloons were strung along the path where the wall once stood, symbols of the once great divide, containing personal messages about the wall's demise.
An open-air party gave way to emotions and remembrances.
Heike Legler, one of the volunteers who released the balloons on Sunday, recalled celebrating her 29th birthday on Nov. 9, 1989, with her husband in a restaurant near their East Berlin home, she told The Washington Post. The evening ended with an unexpected gift — a walk through West Berlin after the couple heard the news of wall's fall and rushed to cross the border.
"We weren't afraid. There were so many people that we knew nothing [bad] would happen. It was incredible," Legler said.
Only two small stretches of the wall still stand -- a memorial at Bernauer Strasse, site some famous escapes; and the East Side Gallery, where the protest graffiti that adorned the Berlin Wall in its final years is kept in place.