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Carnival craziness in Rio

posted 17 Feb 2012, 09:36 by Mpelembe   [ updated 17 Feb 2012, 09:37 ]

Rio's fictional Lord of Misrule declares Carnival open.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL (FEBRUARY 17, 2012) (REUTERS) - Rio de Janeiro's Carnival officially kicked off on Friday (February 17) after the mayor handed the symbolic keys to the city to the fictional King Momo, the Lord of Misrule.

In a samba-driven ceremony at Rio's government palace, Mayor Eduardo Paes gave his Carnival substitute a large glittery key to represent his rule during the week-long celebrations.

The fat King Momo, played by Milton Junior, arrived in a limousine next to the Carnival queen and princess while a band played traditional samba tunes known as "marchinhas".

Paes said he was going to take the week off to party and let his "substitute" take over.

"Right now I'm excusing myself from Rio de Janeiro's city hall and will officially hand over the keys to the city and my position as mayor of all of Rio's residents to the royal family here represented by the King Momo and his queen. Long live Rio de Janeiro," he said.

King Momo is one of carnival's most traditional figures. In Greek mythology, Momo was the god of delight and revelry.

"With our joy, our compassion and our love for this great city, I right now declare open, Carnival in the city of Rio de Janeiro," said Junior.

The highlight of the Carnival celebrations are two parades on Sunday and Monday night by 12 samba groups, each featuring up to 6,000 dancers in the Sambadrome stadium.

But revellers already began to party two weeks ago when the neighbourhood bands started to parade along the streets.

Carnival will end on Ash Wednesday, although many continue to party on.