Brazil’s Carnival reaches its crescendo
Rio’s Carnival festivities reached their crescendo late on Monday with a final night of samba school parades, part of a contest appropriately dubbed the greatest show on earth.
The top dance schools showcased elaborate floats decked with scantily-clad beauty queens writhing to the beat of samba music blasted from giant speakers on flatbed trucks.
The showdown at the city’s Sambodrome was to compete for the coveted title of Carnival champion, and the 72,500 spectators that managed to get a ticket for the event cheered their favourite schools with the same passion reserved for soccer in this football-mad country.
“It’s beautiful, marvellous! I love carnival, it brings out everything that’s good in life!” gushed Maria Concepgao dos Santos, 71, who came from southern Brazil to see her favourite school compete.
The Sao Clemente samba school opened late on Monday with a tribute to Brazil’s most popular soap operas, and included a float with a giant TV set.
Unlike the ubiquitous Carnival street parties that are open to all, the Sambodrome parades are mainly for the wealthy and foreign tourists.
The final day of partying is the culmination of a blowout that began in Rio 15 days ago with some 700 street parties that sent residents of this city of six million out to dance.
Dubbed “the greatest show on Earth”, the Rio Carnival officially got under way on Friday, when the legendary King Momo received a giant key to the city from Mayor Eduardo Paes.