Brazil's Carnival erupts, but in some cities the samba is silent

Fri Feb 8, 2013 2:57pm EST
 
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By Paulo Prada

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Brazil's Carnival celebrations cut loose on Friday, but the parades, block parties and overall festivities began under the pall of a recent nightclub fire that killed 238 people in the southern city of Santa Maria.

Even as the mayor of Rio de Janeiro handed over the keys of the city to King Momo, the ceremonial figurehead of Brazil's best-known Carnival celebrations, the mourning continued.

President Dilma Rousseff attended a mass in honor of the fire victims at the cathedral in Brasilia, the capital, on Thursday night.

She will spend the five-day holiday in the northeastern state of Bahia, where a blackout late Thursday darkened the capital city of Salvador ahead of the revelry there. Her press office said she would not participate in any of it.

Most of the show, of course, will go on.

Psy, the Korean pop star whose "Gangnam Style" single with its signature dance moves has made him a global phenomenon, was scheduled to sing in the massive street parties in Salvador, Brazil's third-biggest city. Other Brazilian and foreign celebrities, including American actress Megan Fox, were expected to enliven celebrations in Rio and elsewhere.

Carnival is the consummate Brazilian holiday, with most of Latin America's biggest country closed down ahead of the Catholic season of Lent.

The annual event lures millions of locals and tourists to parties across the country. Rio alone is expected to attract 900,000 tourists and generate $665 million for the local economy this year.   Continued...