By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – When Rio de Janeiro mayor Eduardo Paes handed Rei Momo (King Momo) the key to the city on Friday, February 13th, the 2015 Rio Carnival officially began. Continuing through Tuesday, February 17th, the five-day-celebration will take over the city with revelers from around the world filling city streets, the famed Sambódromo, and venues throughout Rio for parades, parties, and colorful, samba fueled pre-lenten celebrations.
Helping to usher in the official start of Carnival on Friday, was the Carnaval da Rua (Street Carnival). Consisting of groups known as blocos that parade through the city’s streets, thousands to millions of revelers are know to following after them and parade with them each year.
The unofficial bloco schedule began earlier in January of this year, but the blocos are in full swing and last weekend saw a total of 111 blocos, and this Saturday and Sunday alone there are 127 scheduled to parade.
Today, February 14th, the blocos will continue with large crowds expected to attend the famous Cordão da Bola Preta bloco parade. One of the oldest blocos in Rio, they met in Centro on the Rua Primeiro de Março, by the corner of Rua do Rosário to begin their parade at 9AM. They have been known to host celebrity guests and to attract over a million of revelers during previous years. This year, approximately 1.3 million party-goers are expected to attend.
Additionally, the popular bloco, Céu Na Terra, paraded today in Santa Teresa. Beginning at 8AM, they met at Largo dos Guimarães. For a full list of today’s and future bloco parade schedules, see O Globo’s interactive map as well as their mobile app. It is important to note that some of the times and locations are subject to change and that parade cancellations can occur.
Moving from the streets into the famed Sambódromo, the Carnival competition also began Friday night with the first seven samba schools from the Série A group presenting their processions. In the annual parade competition the winner of this group (previously called the Access Group) is promoted to the top level competition of the Special Group.
Samba school Em Cima da Hora presented a colorful tribute to Arab culture with their enredo (theme), “No Coração da Cidade, uma História das Mil e uma Noites – O Rio das Arábias” (In the Heart of the City, a History of a Thousand and One Nights – The Arabs’ Rio), while nine-time Carnival champions Império Serrano made an impressive showing with Angela Bismarchi dressed as an angel leading the school’s bateria (drum section).
The second set of eight samba schools from the Série A group will parade on Saturday night. Followed by the main Carnival competition between the twelve schools of the Special Group, with six parading on the night of Sunday, February 15th and the remaining six on Monday, February 16th.