Baby Lasagna arrives in Zagreb's main square to greet enthusiastic fans

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"We gave it our all, I think you all noticed that," were the first words of the emotional Baby Lasagna to the ecstatic fans who filled Ban Jelačić Square in Zagreb, welcoming the Croatian representative to the Eurovision with chants of "Marko, Marko!" and "Victory, victory!".

Marko Purišić - Baby Lasagna won second place at the Eurovision Song Contest in the Swedish city of Malmö last night, receiving the highest number of votes from the audience, and the City of Zagreb hosted a welcome event for him on the main square on Sunday.

"What am I supposed to say now? I expected twenty people at the airport and here there are a hundred. Thank you so much," said Marko Purišić, who then burst into tears.

"We gave it our all, I think you noticed that. We are just kids, and I hope we proved that you can reach a high level on your own. We did everything ourselves," he added, before performing the song "Rim Tim Tagi Dim" with his band.

He arrived at Ban Jelačić Square in an open bus, and at Zagreb Airport, along with numerous fans, he was also welcomed by his mother Marija, "the happiest mom in the world," as she said.

Before coming to the stage at the square, he signed autographs for the gathered fans, many of whom were adorned with tablets or wore shirts with a cat motif.

Before his arrival, Croatian performers from previous Eurovision editions, including the band Let 3, Emilija Kokić, and Tajči accompanied by Ante Gele and the band, performed on the stage, which was also decorated with tablet motifs.

Marko was welcomed by politicians, with Prime Minister Andrej Plenković arriving at the main Zagreb square with children and in the company of several ministers and selected members of the HDZ parliamentary deputies.

Minister of Tourism and Sports Nikolina Brnjac said in a brief statement to Hina that she, like all of Europe, was infected with "babymania," and that Baby Lasagna is "our true and genuine winner, not only of Croatia but of the whole of Europe."

This, she emphasized, is a huge promotion for Croatia. "You saw how much Croatia was mentioned, googled. We, like the Croatian Tourist Board, followed Marko and his entire team both last year and this year in a promotional sense, and we will continue to do so," said Minister Brnjac, who wore tablet motif earrings at the welcome event.

Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević congratulated Marko and his team in a statement to reporters. "I think he nailed it, he won first place, of course, we are disappointed with the jury votes, but he deserves all the praise," he said.

Marko deserved a welcome at the Square, emphasized Tomašević, and thousands of people eagerly await him. Marko impressed Tomašević, he said, with his simplicity, sincerity, and modesty. "Even in the situation when he lost, he congratulated the winner, he was very correct. He's really a great guy, who deserves this welcome," he added.

Purišić went to Eurovision after a convincing victory at this year's Dora, where he entered as a substitute, and was officially included in the competition after the withdrawal of singer Zse Zse. He is the author of the song "Rim Tim Tagi Dim," which has been the top choice of bookmakers and the biggest favorite for victory in Malmö from the beginning. His stage performance was enthusiastically embraced by the audience, who sang and danced along with the recognizable choreography.

He had exceptional support from the entire Croatia before the competition, with the title of the song visible on tram station displays and highways, and crocheted tablets and cat shirts, of which he is a fan, became mandatory fashion accessories.

The Croatian representative advanced to the final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2024 as the best in the first semifinal evening, while the winner, Swiss representative Nemo with the song "The Code," entered the final as the fourth in the second semifinal.

In the final, Nemo won a total of 591 points (365 points from the jury and 226 from the audience), while Baby Lasagna scored 547 points (210 from the jury and 337 from the audience). (Hina)