February 23, 2024

To thunderous applause, Rio de Janeiro’s mayor coronated King Momo, marking the beginning of the symbolic Carnival monarch’s five-day reign over the revelry which began on Friday.

“I officially declare Carnival 2024 open!” King Momo said after Mayor Eduardo Paes bestowed upon him a gigantic, silver and gold key. Confetti flew in a hall of the Palace of the City in the Botafogo neighbourhood where the ceremony took place.

Looking on were the usual suspects of Rio’s Carnival scene: revellers dressed as folkloric characters, jaguars and “bate-bolas” – exuberant clowns in identical, elaborate outfits who travel in packs. Festivities will last through to February 14.

Paes on Thursday issued a decree making the key ceremony an annual official event, obliging his successors to participate. In 2017, former Mayor Marcelo Crivella broke with tradition and did not hand over the key.

Momo, played this year by Caio Cesar Dutra, is charged with “presiding over Carnival festivities, participating in the parades and costume competitions, and promoting the joy of partygoers”, City Hall said in its official gazette on Friday.

Brazil Tourism Minister Celso Sabino, also present at the ceremony, said 49 million people across Brazil will take part in festivities, 6.5 percent more than last year.

Approximately 200,000 foreigners are set to pour into the country and many of them – scantily dressed and covered in glitter – will join the street parties that occupy and dominate public spaces across Rio, Sao Paulo and other cities.

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