Rio Carnival to culminate with sumptuous parades

Brazil's famous Carnival kicks into high gear Sunday as the city prepares to hold sumptuous multimillion-dollar parades amid what is billed as the Greatest Party on Earth.

A light rain did nothing to dampen the festive spirit Saturday, serving more as a refreshing cool-down for bodies worked into a sweat as they danced and gyrated at the numerous "blocos," or street parties.

The monster of all the blocos, the Bloco Bola Preta, filled the center of Rio with a motley crowd of up to two million people wearing all manner of garb - or in many cases, little at all.

"Everybody is mixing here. There's no class differences. None. Everybody is here with the same plan, to have fun," said one young woman sporting Elton John-style oversized yellow sunglasses and a bouffant Afro wig.

Throughout the city, nearly 800,000 tourists, Brazilian and foreign, were taking part in the extravaganza alongside most of Rio's population of six million, turning the place into a bohemian sprawl buoyed by high-decibel samba music.

Although the focus was on Rio, which holds key parades Sunday and Monday, the whole nation was letting loose for Carnival.

In the southern state of Santa Catarina, though, tragedy struck in the form of a horrific road accident. At least 25 people were killed when the bus they were traveling in collided with an oncoming timber-hauling truck before dawn.

The carnage was by far the worst of a multitude of traffic deaths occurring as Brazilians moved around the country for the Carnival celebrations, which run until Wednesday.

Throughout Rio de Janeiro state, 50,000 police were deployed to clamp down on crime and ensure the safest Carnival possible.

Many were in the city of Rio, where this year some 30 surveillance cameras have been installed to improve monitoring, and where police have in recent months been chasing drug gangs out of some of the most lawless slums.

The re-taking of the slums "has improved the Carnival atmosphere a lot," said Paulo, a 22-year-old smiling broadly at the Bola Preta bloco. "Before it was a problem, there were muggings," but now people feel much safer, he said.

Nearby, Vanderleia, a 47-year-old nurse from a slum who was partying before starting her hospital shift, said: "We feel safer in the bloco than at home."

Although the crackdown on the gangs started in 2008, Rio authorities have stepped up their actions in recent months as they try to repair the city's reputation for crime ahead of the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games.

They have launched a cleanup of the police force, identifying and kicking out officers - some of them very senior - believed to have links to violent militias that also operate in the slums, executing rivals and extorting money from residents.

"You can't just fight the drug gangs but also the corrupt police," said one 20-year-old student, Tais.

For the majority of those taking part in Rio's Carnival, though, the attention was on fun, leaving behind the grime and grind of ordinary living for a five-day frenzy of drinking, kissing, dancing and beach-going.

"I'm looking for a girlfriend," affirmed one 29-year-old, Erivaldo, who had been knocking back beers since 7:00 am. He confided to AFP that he was especially interested in girls wearing Minnie Mouse costumes.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
tv

First full-length look is finally here

Life and Style
life
Voices
A mother and her child
voices
Arts and Entertainment
Film director Martin Scorsese
film
News
news

The party's potential nominations read like a high school race for student body president

Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
Cold case: Aaron McCusker and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvReview: Sky Atlantic's ambitious new series Fortitude has begun with a feature-length special
Voices
Three people wearing masks depicting Ed Miliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg
voicesPolitics is in the gutter – but there is an alternative, says Nigel Farage
News
i100
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballI have never seen the point of lambasting the fourth official, writes Paul Scholes
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Car Sales Executive - Franchised Main Dealer

    £30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

    Recruitment Genius: Group Sales Manager - Field Based

    £21000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...

    Guru Careers: Email Marketing Specialist

    £26 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Email Marketing Specialist is needed to join...

    Recruitment Genius: Tour Drivers - UK & European

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join a is a...

    Day In a Page

    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

    Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

    This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
    Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

    Cabbage is king again

    Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

    Paul Scholes column

    The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
    Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee