Carnival time burst upon Rio de Janeiro at midnight on Friday, but with much less force than in previous years.
Carnival time burst upon Rio de Janeiro at midnight on Friday, but with much less force than in previous years. Rising costs and stricter police control have been blamed for a decline in the carnival.
Only about 6,000 people danced and sang through the streets as the opening procession of illuminated floats made its way down the broad Avenida Rio Branco. With prices for a series of tickets for carnival balls and spectator seats costing up to GBP 70 (US$172), the bulk of the city's poor population were having to watch the festivities on television.
More than 10,000 armed police were posted on the streets to ensure that merry-making did not "exceed the limits" of decency. There were also stricter controls on carnival costumes, with bikinis and masks largely banned.
The four-day carnival began on friday with the crowning of the first Negro carnival king, Elson Macula, a 254 lb army sergeant. The high price of carnival costumes - in some cases as much as GBP 1,500 each (US $3,700) - was also expected to have an effect on sunday (4 March) nights's parade through Rio by samba dancers.