The show goes on for ill-fated Brazil Carnival

Wed Mar 2, 2011 11:36am EST
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By Stuart Grudgings

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Adson Amazonas gazed with well-earned pride at the monstrous black and polka dot spider looming over him.

The 34-year-old and his fellow workers had to build the complex model not once, but twice, after it was ravaged by a fire last month that seemed to turn the Carnival dreams of three of Rio de Janeiro's top 12 samba groups to ashes.

Three weeks on, just days before the annual party kicks off on Friday, a combination of community spirit, innovation and 20-hour working days have just about got the three groups in shape to parade through Rio's Sambadrome stadium this weekend.

Still, officials with the so-called samba schools admit that their parades will lack much of the usual brilliance and luxurious touches that wow the crowds and win them marks with the competition judges.

Carnival spirits this year have been dampened by the tragedy of the fire and a far worse incident on Sunday when 15 revelers were electrocuted and killed by a fallen power cable in the neighboring state of Minas Gerais.

"We had to start from zero, pay for everything again," said Danyllo Gayer, one of the founders of the Grande Rio group that was worst affected, losing thousands of costumes and all of the intricate floats that tell the parade's story, or "enredo."

"If it had happened three months before Carnival we could have made it, but just 20 or so days before, no," he added.

Among the expected highlights of this year's festival of excess that draws about three quarters of a million visitors to Rio are appearances on parade floats by Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen, who will pose as ancient Greek sculpture Venus de Milo, and local singing legend Roberto Carlos.   Continued...

<p>A worker stands next to a carnival float at Grande-Rio Samba School in Rio de Janeiro March 1, 2011. The Rio de Janeiros's Carnival parade will held March 5-6. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes</p>