BERLIN — All eyes — including those of Bill Clinton — were on Willy Bogner as he dramatically undraped Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate during Reunification Day festivities in the German capital last week.

One of Berlin’s most famous monuments, the Brandenburg Gate had literally been under wraps for almost two years of renovation. Bogner dreamed up the idea of ascending to the top of the gate in a hot-air balloon and then rappeled the monument, unzipping the shielding tarpaulins on the way down. The Berlin senate gave the go-ahead, and to those who questioned why a Bavarian was unveiling Berlin’s central monument, Bogner replied: "It’s the day of unity, for goodness sake."

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and President Johannes Rau watched the stunt. Bogner said he had to concentrate on what he was doing, hanging more or less by a string a good four stories off the ground. But then too, he felt the need to take it all in, to turn off, he said, and just ask himself, "Isn’t this incredible?"

Most of the one million people who’d assembled near the gate for the holiday festivities and Bogner’s derring-do probably assumed that the B on the zipper stood for Berlin or Brandenburg Gate, but those in the know would have recognized it as the Bogner logo.

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