Rio de Janeiro kicks of the five days of parades and street parties that make up its world-famous Carnival celebrations.
A-million people are expected to pack the streets of Rio during Carnival. CCTV America’s Stephen Gibbs was in middle of it all in Brazil’s most famous city.
Receiving the fictional key to the city, the man with the crown is King Momo.
In the entertaining carnival world that is carnival, he is, theoretically, in charge. That’s why Rio’s mayor bows to him, and to the carnival queen. The mayor told CCTV he was quite relaxed about handing over to someone else.
“For like 5 days, it’s cool, I hope he get’s all the infrastructure for the Olympics ready, and there are no problems in the city when I get back,” Eduardo Paes, Mayor of Rio de Janeiro said.
CCTV America caught up with Momo – whose real name is Wilson – ahead of the big day. Like millions of Brazilians, he takes his pre-carnival preparations seriously.
“We have to be very fit to endure the main carnival parades, and then follow other events happening in the city,” Wilson Dias da Costa Neto, also known as ‘King Momo’ said. “Physical exercise makes you better prepared for the events both before and during the carnival.”
Tradition holds ‘King Momo’ to a high standard when it comes to having fun, being a good dancer and staying a little bit on the fat side.
“The figure of Momo is one of playfulness, joy, sympathy: characteristics that are very me! I was always very outgoing, happy, as well as chubby, which helps, although it’s not essential,” Wilson Dias da Costa Neto said.
King Momo, who’s named is derived from Momus the Greek god of satire, is a carnival tradition across Latin America.
In some countries he’s a puppet who is burned at the end of the festivities. That won’t happen to Wilson as he’ll have to go back to his day job after the parties are over.