It's Carnival! (But Crisis Hangover Looms)

Money dries up, but Brazil keeps on partying
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 23, 2009 8:21 AM CST
Paola Oliveira, queen of the drums' section of Grande Rio samba school, dances during carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro, Sunday, Feb. 22, 2009.   (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
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(Newser) – Wednesday is the start of Lent, but until then millions are sambaing in the streets of Brazil in the days-long bacchanal known as Carnival. While the celebrations in Rio de Janiero are as big as ever, the economic crisis is taking its toll on the massive party. Corporate sponsorship for the multimillion-dollar productions has dried up, reports AFP, and the federal and local governments have had to step in.

President Lula is in Rio for the first time for Carnival, after his government provided $3 million to the competitive samba schools to replace lost funding. Many on the streets and in the massive Sambodrome said that this year's celebrations may be the last mega-sized Carnival in some time. Until then, though, the party continues; as one tourist said, "It's like being at a football game, only with naked ladies."