Rio de Janeiro carnival festivities officially kick off

11:07, March 05, 2011      

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Rio de Janeiro's Mayor Eduardo Paes (2nd R) poses for a photo with the Rei Momo (2nd L), or Carnival King, Milton Junior after handing over the ceremonial key to the city to the latter, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, March 4, 2011. The event officially kicked off the 2011 carnival week in Rio. (Xinhua/Song Weiwei)

Rio de Janeiro's carnival season, which draws hundreds of thousands of people from all the world, officially kicked off late Friday when mayor Eduardo Paes handed the key of the city to "King Momo".

The key will remain with the king of Carnivals until Ash Wednesday next week, when it is returned to the mayor.

"We ask people to have fun with tranquility, to respect the city, so that we can have a joyful carnival," Paes said to his people who will soon be filling the streets dancing samba with music parades.

Pre-carnival partying had begun weeks ago as city dwellers couldn't wait to escape the drab routines of daily life for complete revelry and catharsis.

However, a fire in early February burned through a storehouse and destroyed almost all the floats and costumes prepared by three samba schools, which would not be able to redo all the floats in time for the parade. A police investigation said the fire was an accident.

More than 700,000 visitors from Brazil and abroad are expected to arrive for the five-day festivities, according to the tourism department of the Rio de Janeiro state.

Source: Xinhua

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