Rio’s Carnival celebration is back, but parties will be smaller | Coronavirus pandemic News

After two years Canceling COVID-19The mayor of Rio de Janeiro has officially opened the world’s most famous carnival, handing the keys to the city to “King Momo”, the carnival’s iconic ruler.

“I’m proud to announce that the greatest show on Earth is back – Long live the Carnival,” Mayor Eduardo Paes told the cheering crowd at town hall on Wednesday, handing over the key. giant gold for the amusing “king” as confetti rained down on them.

The tradition has King Momo, chosen by a jury with input from a popular vote, stipulate Rio for Carnival, presiding over the glittering, sequined spectacle of samba school parades throughout. city ​​night.

This year’s male king, 35-year-old Wilson Dias da Costa Neto, was selected on the basis of “vividness, sociability, wording, kindness, happiness, festive spirit and samba skills”, the court said. mayor said.

The king of the Momo festival, Wilson Dias da Costa Neto, smiles during a ceremony marking the official start of Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The king of the Momo festival, Wilson Dias da Costa Neto, smiles during the ceremony [Bruna Prado/AP Photo]

Dressed in a shiny blue tunic and jewel-encrusted tiara, Neto accepted the key with a very bright smile.

It was a welcome change of tune from last year when Paes symbolically handed the keys to a pair of medical staff wearing white lab coats and surgical masks after the announcement. the festival had to be canceled because of the pandemic.

COVID-19 has claimed more than 660,000 lives in Brazilsecond only to the United States in absolute numbers.

But with more than 75% of the South American country’s 213 million people now fully immunized, the average weekly death toll has dropped from more than 3,000 a year ago to about 100 today.

Last held in February 2020This year, Carnival looks uncertain again as fears of a new wave prompted the city government to postpone it from its usual days, just before the Catholic Lent season.

Reverers dancing in "Cordão do Boitata" parade in Rio de Janeiro.
Enthusiasts dance during the ‘Cordão do Boitata’ parade during the traditional black cultural festival event ‘Feira das Yabas’ on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil [File: Bruna Prado/AP Photo]

Two months later, the program will resume. The samba school parades will open on Wednesday, with the highly competitive premier league scheduled for Friday and Saturday nights.

City officials have not authorized large street parties known as “blocos,” but a number of smaller parties are still expected to be held.

Some organizers said they would refuse anyway – part party, part protest – and Mayor Paes, a confessed Festival enthusiast, has said he will not deploy the Security Force. City defense.

“City Hall won’t stop people from going to public spaces, holding celebrations, but that can’t happen at [large] size,” the mayor said to a reporter’s question after handing over the keys to the city to King Momo.

Mayor Eduardo Paes of Rio de Janeiro hands over the city's ceremonial keys to "Rei Momo" (King of Festivals), symbolizing the official start of Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Mayor Eduardo Paes of Rio de Janeiro hands over the city’s ceremonial keys [Pilar Olivares/Reuters]

Rio’s larger “blocos”, which often attract tens and hundreds of thousands of discoverers, have fallen into line. They use sound trucks and rely on the city for detours, trash removal and more to limit disruption.

Rita Fernandes, head of the blocos Sebastiana’s association, said they are keeping the fire burning for 2023.

“We don’t want to play at any cost, our sponsor has canceled, we are frustrated with Omicron. Everything was discharged in the end,” said Fernandes. “We don’t think the city will support that volume of blocos within four days. We don’t want to create chaos in the city.”

Others were not convinced, like Tomas Ramos, a saxophonist and member of a group that organized a protest in downtown Rio on April 13.

He shouted to the musicians and spectators that had gathered on the steps of the Rio Municipal Theater, rallying them for the lively Carnival festivities.

A person wearing a mask dances in "Cordão do Boitata" parade in the traditional black culture festival event "Feira das Yabas" on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
A masked person dances during the ‘Cordão do Boitata’ parade on the outskirts of Rio [Bruna Prado/AP Photo]

“Going down with turns turns the city into a big business, where profits prevail over life, where money is freer than people,” he said.

According to official figures, Carnival contributes about $800 million to the Rio economy and creates at least 45,000 jobs.

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