By Michela DellaMonica, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL — With the 2014 World Cup in full swing the energy throughout Rio is high and exciting, boosted in many areas by ornately decorated streets and parks. From Zona Sul (South Zone) to Zona Norte (North Zone) one could make a day of admiring the street art, Brazil flags and ribbons hanging on the lamp posts and wires above, and becoming immersed in Brazilian World Cup fever.
Many streets and communities in Rio have a tradition of heavily decorated World Cup celebrations, but of course this year is much more charged than most, as Brazil hosts the FIFA football (soccer) tournament across twelve cities and Rio is hosting seven matches including the Final on July 13th.
In Zona Sul’s Catete neighborhood on Rua Corrêa Dutra, the Brazilian flag is hung high above the street with other fluttering green and yellow ribbons. Rua Benjamin Constant in Glória, the street has been decorated for each World Cup since 1994. During the World Cup, the area becomes a notable tourist attraction, ideal for taking photos dressed in a team jersey. Painted sidewalks, murals of legendary soccer stars past and present are also a great sight.
“This is exactly what I expected and it makes me so happy every time I walk out of where I am staying,” says U.S. visitor Sydney Zorensky who is staying on the decorated street Rua Corrêa Dutra in Catete. “These decorations really set the mood and vibe around the city which is complete excitement.”
Some streets are so elaborate that they are even recognized on the Google Maps Street View feature. In a campaign for the World Cup, Google’s Street View team updated snapshots of particular Rio streets for its system. Select streets gained fame for the community involved in the project, not only for their beauty but also for their tradition.
In Zona Norte on Rua Pereira Nunes in Vila Isabel the street has been decorated for every World Cup since 1986. “It is a custom that passes from father to son,” says Lauren Pachaly, marketing manager for Google Brasil. “We wanted to show the world the city’s pride.”
Google has also identified the other host cities that have decorated streets for the World Cup including Belo Horizonte in the state of Minas Gerais, Salvador in Bahia, Natal in Rio Grande do Norte, and Manaus in Amazonas. The search engine will allow users to upload photos at 360 degrees for Street View taken from the Photo Sphere, an Android app.
In Rio, beyond the flags and blanketing of tassels, local artists paint figures of the Selecão (Brazil national team) and the World Cup mascot in the Brazilian colors; green, yellow, blue and white. “We are a traditional culture and of course [football] soccer fanatics, so decorating the streets is a pleasure,” says Miguel Alves, a Rio de Janeiro native who spoke to The Rio Times.
Although many street decorations weren’t put up until a week or two before the World Cup started, when in the past they were decorated a month in advance, the “Marvelous City” is even more beautiful with the flags and ribbons waving in the air. The result is an electrifying festive mood that will only pick up energy as Brazil and the tournament progresses toward the final match and a new world champion is named.