Rio de Janeiro world’s famous carnival kicked off in style on Wednesday. The Rio mayor Eduardo Paes handed over the keys of the Brazilian city to the Rei Momo - king of the carnival - marking the start of the first Carnival celebrations since Covid-19 hit Brazil.
Ceremoniously handing control of the city to King Momo aka Wilson Dias, the mayor reminded the public what the event means to them as Brazilians. "Years have passed without this ceremony happening. Carnival certainly is the biggest cultural manifestation of our people, our land, the biggest symbol of our country. Carnival has to do with our history, our ancestry, our culture," he said.
The last time the symbolic act took place with Rio's Mayor present was in 2016, as former mayor Marcelo Crivella did not participate during his governance (2017-2020), and 2021's party was canceled due to COVID-19.
Accepting the symbolic key of the City, King Momo said, "I, as the floric monarch, declare the biggest popular culture manifestation in the world, Rio's Carnival - open. Live samba! Live Brazilian popular culture! Long live Rio's carnival!"
Samba school's glitzy floats and feather-festooned dancers will parade between packed bleachers in Rio's famed Sambadrone for the first time since 2020.
A vast majority of Rio residents intend to stream through the streets and pour into plazas.
With the key already turned, it remains to be seen just how much post-pandemic partying is in store.