Rio de Janeiro: Carnival was underway in
Rio today with millions set to take to the streets for days of
rowdy, joyous parades and festivities, bringing the nation to
a halt for its annual wild party.
Nearly 800,000 Brazilian and foreign tourists were
expected join Rio`s six million residents in the celebrations,
whose climax comes on Sunday and Monday with the city`s top
samba schools putting on their extravagant processions led by
sexy dancing queens.
Extra security has been deployed to reassure visitors
and locals alike -- and to attempt to roll back Rio`s deserved
reputation for street crime ahead of its hosting of football
matches in the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games.
The official launch of Rio`s Carnival was given by
"King Momo," an honorary figure elected before the partying on
the basis of his sizeable girth and jolly nature.
"I give the keys to the city to your majesty," Mayor
Eduardo Paes told the symbolic sovereign in a ceremony at the
"I declare the magnificent Carnival of Rio open!" King
Momo replied, as he quick-stepped into a nifty samba dance
accompanied by a couple of sequined Carnival queens.
Billed as The Biggest Party of Earth, Rio`s Carnival
is a magnet for partiers and jetsetters, who rub shoulders
with the city`s exuberant residents, rich and poor alike.