Lindo Maravilhoso! It's Carnival!

Brazil kicks off its epic national celebration
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 1, 2008 6:05 PM CST
A Maracatu lance-bearer, left, dances with women during carnival celebrations in Olinda in Brazil's Pernambuco state, Friday, Jan. 25, 2008. The crack down on violence opened the lance-bearer groups up...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Brazil kicked off its legendary pre-Lenten carnival today, ushering in the five-day weekend that has been dubbed “the best public party on earth,” AFP reports. Revelers took the streets of Brazil’s major cities, but the main event will be the samba competitions in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday and Monday, in which dancers will compete in front of 50,000 onlookers.

Though Brazilians haven’t let it spoil the event’s jubilant mood, but there have been some dark clouds over carnival this year: Rio police are protesting in a controversy over pay and work conditions, and one samba dance school was forced to redesign a float which depicted Hitler dancing on a pile of emaciated corpses.