RIO DE JANEIRO – Rio de Janeiro's mayor has opened the seaside city's raucous Carnival, the self-billed biggest party on the planet and Brazil's last big bash before it hosts this year's World Cup football tournament.
Amid pounding drums and sequined-laden dancers, Mayor Eduardo Paes handed the keys to the city to King Momo, the mythical jester who reigns over the extravaganza.
Through Ash Wednesday, hundreds of thousands of merrymakers will take to Rio's streets in the nearly 500 open-air "bloco" parties. The most traditional of these bashes is expected to attract more than 1 million people to Rio's center area on Saturday.
Rio's tourism officials project that 918,000 tourists will descend on the city for Carnival. That's expected to inject more than $730 million into the local economy.