By Maria Angelica Troncoso
Rio de Janeiro, Apr 20 (EFE).- After being called off last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2022 edition of the world’s most famous party got under way here Wednesday with a proclamation from Rei Momo, the King of Carnival.
Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes hailed the return of Brazil’s “greatest symbol” during the ceremonial presentation of the key to the city to Rei Momo.
“I, as king of the revelers, declare open the world’s greatest cultural and popular manifestation,” Wilson Dias da Costa said at the start of his fifth term as Momo, a name derived from Momos, the personification of satire and mockery in Greek mythology.
“Viva samba! Viva Brazilian popular culture!,” the 35-year-old announcer said.
Because of coronavirus, which has claimed roughly 662,000 lives in Brazil, Carnival was canceled outright in 2021 for the first time in Rio’s history.
While Cariocas – as Rio residents are known – have been looking forward to the 2022 Carnival, the persistence of the pandemic has forced some changes.
The municipal government originally planned for Carnival to run on the traditional schedule, from Feb. 25 through March 2 (Ash Wednesday), but the Omicron surge of Covid-19 prompted a postponement to this week.
And city hall has barred processions by the “blocos,” troupes of musicians and dancers that give life to the rolling street parties that are the essence of Carnival for Cariocas.
The main public event of Carnival 2022 will be the two nights of processions in the Sambadrome, where the city’s top samba schools vie for honors.
During the 2020 Carnival, around 300,000 people packed into the Sambadrome for the parades, but more than 7 million turned out for the bloco-led processions.
With the blocos sidelined, at least officially, many Cariocas will be headed to private parties at enclosed venues where admission can be limited to fully vaccinated people.
Despite the official guidance, Paes said that the city government will not punish residents who decide to bring the party into the streets. EFE mat/dr