Rio’s Carnival Parades Start, Carnival Heats Up

Rio de Janeiro’s famous carnival parades began Sunday with fireworks and cheers of festival goers who already had been partying in the streets for days.The processions were staged before a huge multi-national audience, featuring extravagant floats with celebrities and scantily dressed bejeweled dancers from several competing samba schools.A massive fire last month swept through Rio’s warehouse district, destroying thousands of elaborate costumes and floats that had taken nearly a year to make.Three schools that were affected worked round-the-clock to make replacement props and costumes in time to participate in Sunday’s festivities.At least 750,000 visitors were expected to visit Rio during the five-day festival that started Friday.Festivals are taking place in many countries. They will culminate on “Fat Tuesday,” the last day before the 40-day Lenten season that ends at Easter.The southern U.S. city of New Orleans hosts one of the most popular carnivals in North America. A parade there on Sunday featured celebrities including actor Andy Garcia.Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, is holding its first carnival since last year’s devastating earthquake – Voanews