RIO DE JANEIRO – The handing over to King Momo the keys to the city started on Friday five days of festivities in Rio de Janeiro, whose Carnival is one of the most famous in the world and which this year expects to have some 6 million revelers dancing in the streets and in the Sambadrome.
Soon after the city came under the “reign” of Andre Luis dos Santos, a professor of history and the arts chosen last year as the new King Momo of the Rio Carnival, the first samba schools began lining up in the street for their unparalleled parades.
The first was the traditional Carmelite school, whose members said they were ready to lead a massive crowd desperate to begin the festival, among whom were a number disguised as nuns representing the legendary recluses who fled the convent so as not to miss Carnival’s fun-filled frolics.
The school of the Carmelites is one of the 22 samba schools that will parade this Friday down different streets in Rio de Janeiro, and which hope to attract thousands of people to their free festivities.
According to Riotur, the municipal tourism organization, until next Tuesday and before Ash Wednesday puts an end to the Carnival, 437 samba schools will parade through Rio de Janeiro for the 6 million people expected to attend Brazil’s show of shows, of whom some 1.5 million will be tourists.
Unlike last year, when he didn’t show up at the Sambadrome to hand the keys to King Momo, the mayor of Rio de Janeiro, evangelical pastor Marcelo Crivella, took part Friday in the traditional symbolic ceremony of handing over municipal power to the temporary royalty, but made it clear that Carnival is not his favorite place to be.
Crivella, leader of an evangelical group that is very critical of the supposed lasciviousness of Carnival, did not confirm until this Friday morning his participation in the ceremony, which was held behind closed doors.
Later, during his inspection of the Sambadrome, Crivella was squirted with a stream of water from a fire hydrant that left most of his clothes soaked.