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By Chesney Hearst, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – While yesterday was the first night of the Grupo Especial (Special Group) samba school performances at the Marques de Sapucai Sambódromo, the rest of the city celebrated on the streets of Rio. The increasingly popular blocos paraded for the Carnaval da Rua (Street Carnival) across the Cidade Maravilhosa with celebrities, and paying tribute to Rio’s icons.

Bloco Simpatia É Quase Amor 2013, Carnival, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
Ipanema’s Bloco Simpatia É Quase Amor paraded beside Rio’s famous Ipanema Beach owith 120,000 revelers, photo by Foto Fernando Maia/ Riotur.

Celebrating their 15th anniversary, the bloco Bangalafumenga started the day early at 9AM by filling The Aterro do Flamengo (Flamengo Park) and the surrounding areas along their parade route with around 30,000 attendees.

Their procession included a cameo appearance of the Brazilian singer, Milton Nascimento. Known for the songs “Maria, Maria” and “Bailes da Vida” among others, Nascimento entertained the crowd on Sunday by performing the song “Raça”.

“Fifteen years ago we reactivated the street carnival. Since then, we have become one of the main baterias [percussion sections],” João Mário Lenhares, the man responsible for surprising Bangalafumenga followers with the Nascimento performance, told O Globo.

Also in Rio’s Zona Sul (South Zone), Ipanema’s bloco Simpatia é Quase Amor surprised its followers by paying tribute to the Brazilian poet and composer of “Garota de Ipanema” (The Girl from Ipanema), Vinicius de Moraes.

“A tribute made to Vinicius is exciting. He took Ipanema to the world and today Simpatia é Quase Amore is also a joy to the neighborhood. We are a continuation of the work he did to immortalize Ipanema,” Dodô Brandão, a director of the bloco told O Globo.

The Simpatia é Quase Amore bloco happens several times in the lead-up to Carnival weekend, and yesterday’s edition drew some 120,000 revelers to the famous beach. Zona Sul host the largest number of blocos in the city – in total there will be 148 during the 2013 Carnival (out of 492 total).

Read more (in Portuguese).

* The Rio Times Daily Updates feature is offered to help keep you up-to-date with important news as it happens.

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