- Title: BRAZIL: RIO DE JANEIRO CARNIVAL
- Date: 3rd March 2003
- Summary: SV/TV CARNIVAL PARADE AND DANCING GROUP "BLOCO DE ANSIEDADE" ON THE STREET (8 SHOTS)
- Embargoed: 18th March 2003 12:00
- Location: RIO DE JANEIRO AND SALVADOR DE BAHIA, BRAZIL
- Country: Brazil
- Topics: Entertainment,General
- Reuters ID: LVA9LWPUHA7TF55TDKD3Z56Q52UO
- Story Text: Despite a heavy police presence and pounding rain, thousands of Carnival revellers have shaken and shimmied to the samba beat as the world's most famous pre-Lenten celebration continued.
Under heavy security, tens of thousands of Brazilians and tourists continued their 'round the clock celebration of the world's best known Carnival in Rio de Janeiro on Monday (March 03).
Not even Mother Nature could dampen the Carnival spirit as the city's elite samba schools kicked off the second night of revelry under a steady drizzle and a heavy security presence.
Under threat from ruthless drug gangs, machine gun-toting army troops and nearly 2,000 police looked on as samba dancers shimmied their way down the 700-yard (metre) runway of Rio's "Sambadrome," undeterred by running make-up and soaked costumes as 70,000 screaming fans cheered from the grandstands.
"I adore Carnival. it is the best thing in the world,"
said one Brazilian, seemingly echoing the thoughts of thousands of other Carnival participants.
The Tradicao (trah-dih-SOWM) samba school started the show with a homage to Brazil's other obsession, celebrating the national soccer team's record fifth World Cup championship last year and its star player Ronaldo, who couldn't make it.
But the parade is expected to take a more serious turn later when rival troupe Beija-Flor (BAI-shzuh), or Hummingbird, takes center stage with a controversial routine denouncing the hunger and violence that afflicts this country of 170 million people.
The school's top brass scrapped plans to have an armed Jesus Christ duel with the devil after the Catholic church protested, but defended its right to expose the injustices of a country where nearly a third of the population lives in poverty.
Last year's champion samba school Mangueira (mahn-GIR-ah) also danced their way down the street with some 5,000 participants.
Thousands of tourists joined the fun.
"I'm so excited. I can't explain it - it is the most incredible thing I've ever done, ever," said British tourist Marine.
Meanwhile bands playing from floats continued leading the Carnival festivities in Salvador da Bahia (sahl-vah-DOR dah bah-HEE-ah) with thousands of people dancing.
Carnival officiallyon Ash Wednesday (March 07) but typically drags on through the weekend. Most Brazilian cities come to a halt for the annual festivities, but it is the Bacchanalia in Rio that draws the most international attention.
Nearly 400,000 visitors, including 40,000 foreigners, were expected to descend on Rio. Although one American tourist was shot in the leg while being assaulted over the weekend, most of the Carnival revellers from abroad were undeterred by Rio's violent side.
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