Preteen samba queen cries at Rio`s Carnival

Last Updated: Monday, February 15, 2010 - 12:14

Rio de Janeiro: She was cheered by legions of Carnival fans, but 7-year-old Julia Lira, the youngest drum corps queen in memory at Rio`s lavish party, broke down crying upon realising she was the centre of everyone`s attention early Monday.
Dressed in a sequined halter top and a miniskirt made of purple feathers, the youngster shuffled through the first 50 yards (meters) of the parade. Her father — the president of the parading Viradouro samba group — then took her by the hand and presented her to the crowd. She smiled big for the photographers.

But 10 minutes into the group`s parade and surrounded by dozens of photographers and television cameramen, the youngster broke down in tears and was immediately scooped up into the arms of her unofficial handler, the group`s spokeswoman Joice Hurtado, and taken away from the attention.

After a five-minute cool down, Julia returned to her place in front of the group`s massive drum line, but was quickly whisked through the parade grounds by her father and out of the media`s eye.

About 20 minutes after that, the girl bounced back and began to samba at the helm of the parade — though television coverage steered clear of showing the youngster to millions of viewers.

Before the parade began, Julia`s father, Marco Lira, said that "she`s happy, she is ready to dance."
But some in the audience thought she was not ready for the spotlight.

"She is too young to be a drum corps queen," said Marister Deniz, 60, who was watching from the stands. "A girl that size shouldn`t be thrust in such a role."

But Jorge Elias Souza, a member of the Viradouro drum corps, said he was proud of the girl regardless.

Putting Julia in the Carnival role drew the ire of child welfare advocates who were against a 7-year-old taking on a role normally reserved for sultry models and actresses.

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First Published: Monday, February 15, 2010 - 12:14

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