By Esmee Verbeek, Contributing Reporter RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Today is the third formal day of Carnival, arguably the world´s largest party is set to thunder on through Tuesday (officially the work-holiday ends Wednesday afternoon). Not only was yesterday ablaze with the open street parties known as ‘blocos‘ – it was also the first day of the Grupo Especial (Special Group) samba schools parading down the famous Marquês de Sapuca. Mocidade parading at Carnival 2012 at Sambódromo, photo by Nelson Perez/Riotur. Thousands of well-rehearsed paraders in colorful costumes and tremendous ornate floats graced the Sambódromo. The newly renovated stadium, originally designed by Oscar Niemeyer in 1984, increased from 60,000 to 72,500 seats. Of the many highlights, Beija-Flor honored Joãosinho Trinta, the ´carnavalesco´ of the school of Nilópolis who passed away in December last year. Mocidade was the fourth school who passed through Marquês de Sapucaí and honored the Brazilian painter Candido Portinari. Tonight is the last day of the Special Group parade competition, after which on Tuesday night performers of smaller schools will parade, trying to make their way up the tiers, as winners gain entry to the Access Group schools. But millions more people will enjoy scores of blocos throughout the city, from Zona Norte (North Zone) and Centro, to Zona Sul (South Zone). Today (February 20th) some of the most popular blocos include Laranjeiras’ Volta, Alice beginning at 9AM, and Ipanema’s Se Não Quiser Dar, Me Empresta at 4PM along Vieira Souto at Posto 10. Also in Leblon, Império da Cruzada begins on Avenida Borges de Medeiros starts at 6PM. Copacabana will host Banda Clube Nobre do Bairro do Peixoto which starts on Avenida Atlântica at 3PM, and then Os Imóveis and Afoxé Raízes Africanas which begins at 4PM and then the bloco Cabeça de Chave at 6PM. Read more (in Portuguese). * The Rio Times Daily Update is a new feature we are offering to help keep you up-to-date with major news as it happens. Leave a Reply Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published.