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Rio's Carnival parade returns after long pandemic hiatus

A performer from the Mangueira samba school parades during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, April 22, 2022. ...
Dancer from the Academicos do Tucuruvi samba school perform on a float during a carnival parade in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Friday, April 22, 2022. (AP Phot...
A performer from the Mangueira samba school parades during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, April 22, 2022. ...
Performers from the Mangueira samba school parade on a float during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, April 2...
A dancer from the Academicos do Tucuruvi samba school performs during a carnival parade in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Friday, April 22, 2022. (AP Photo/Andre ...
People attend the Mangueira samba school parade during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, April 22, 2022. (AP ...
Performers from the Imperatriz Leopoldinense samba school parade during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, Apr...
Dancer from the Academicos do Tucuruvi samba school perform during a carnival parade in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Friday, April 22, 2022. (AP Photo/Andre Pen...
A dancer from the Academicos do Tucuruvi samba school performs during a carnival parade in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Friday, April 22, 2022. (AP Photo/Andre ...
Children from the Mangueira samba school parade during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, April 22, 2022. (AP ...
Members of the Imperatriz Leopoldinense samba school performs during the Carnival parade at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, April 22...
A performer from the Mangueira samba school parades during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, April 22, 2022. ...
Performers from the Mangueira samba school parade during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, April 22, 2022. (A...
A performer from the Mangueira samba school parades during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, April 22, 2022. ...
A performer from the Imperatriz Leopoldinense samba school parades during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, A...
A performer from the Mangueira samba school parades during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, April 22, 2022. ...
Performers from the Imperatriz Leopoldinense samba school parade during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, Apr...
A member of the Imperatriz Leopoldinense samba school performs during the Carnival parade at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, April 2...
A member of the Imperatriz Leopoldinense samba school performs during the Carnival parade at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, April 2...
Members of the Imperatriz Leopoldinense samba school perform during the Carnival parade at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, April 22,...
A member of the Imperatriz Leopoldinense samba school performs during the Carnival parade at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, April 2...
Members of the Imperatriz Leopoldinense samba school perform during the Carnival parade at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, April 22,...
A member of the Imperatriz Leopoldinense samba school performs during the Carnival parade at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, April 2...
A performer from the Mangueira samba school parades during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, April 22, 2022. ...
Members of the Imperatriz Leopoldinense samba school perform during the Carnival parade at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, April 22,...
A performer from the Mangueira samba school parades during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, April 22, 2022. ...
Performers from the Mangueira samba school parade during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, April 22, 2022. (A...
Daniela Orcisse, princess of the Carnival, poses for a picture during the opening carnival parade in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Friday, April 22, 2022. (AP Ph...
A woman cries during the Mangueira samba school parade during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, April 22, 202...
People watch the Mangueira samba school parade during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, April 22, 2022. (AP P...
Dancers from the Academicos do Tucuruvi samba school perform on a float during a carnival parade in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Friday, April 22, 2022. (AP Pho...
Performers from the Mangueira samba school parade during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, April 22, 2022. (A...
A performer from the Mangueira samba school parades during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, April 22, 2022. ...
A dancer from the Mancha Verde samba school performs on a float during a carnival parade in Sao Paulo, Brazil, early Saturday, April 23, 2022. (AP Pho...
A performer from the Salgueiro samba school parades during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, early Saturday, April 23...
A dancer from the Academicos do Tatuape samba school performs during a carnival parade in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Andre...
A performer from the Viradouro samba school parades during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022...
A performer from the Beija Flor samba school parades during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 202...
A dancer from the Academicos do Tatuape samba school performs during a carnival parade in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Andre...
A dancer from the Academicos do Tatuape samba school performs during a carnival parade in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Andre...
Dancers from the Academicos do Tatuape samba school perform during a carnival parade in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Andre P...
Dancers from the Academicos do Tatuape samba school perform on a float during a carnival parade in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022. (AP Ph...
A performer from the Beija Flor samba school parades during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 202...
A performer from the Beija Flor samba school parades during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 202...
People watch the Beija Flor samba school parade during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022. (A...
A performer from the Beija Flor samba school parades during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 202...
A performer from the Beija Flor samba school parades during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 202...
Performers from the Beija Flor samba school parade during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022....
Women cheer during the Beija Flor samba school parade during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 20...
Performers from the Beija Flor samba school parade during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022....
Performers from the Beija Flor samba school parade during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022....
Performers from the Beija Flor samba school parade on a float during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, Apri...
Performers from the Beija Flor samba school parade during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022....
Performers from the Beija Flor samba school parade on a float during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, Apri...
Drum queen Erika Januza from the Viradouro samba school performs during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Brazil, Sat...
Drummers from the Unidos da Vila Maria samba school perform during a carnival parade in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Andre P...
Dancers from the Unidos da Vila Maria samba school perform on a float during a carnival parade in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022. (AP Pho...
A dancer from the Unidos da Vila Maria samba school performs on a float during a carnival parade in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022. (AP P...
A performer from the Viradouro samba school parades during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022...
Dancers from the Unidos da Vila Maria samba school perform on a float during a carnival parade in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022. (AP Pho...
Drummers from the Unidos da Vila Maria samba school perform during a carnival parade in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Andre P...
A performer from the Viradouro samba school parades during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022...
A performer from the Viradouro samba school parades during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022...
Performers from the Viradouro samba school parade on a float during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, April...
Performers from the Viradouro samba school parade on a float during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, April...
A performer from the Viradouro samba school parades during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022...
A performer from the Viradouro samba school parades during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022...
A performer from the Viradouro samba school parades during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022...
A performer from the Viradouro samba school parades during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022...
A performer from the Viradouro samba school parades during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022...
A performer from the Viradouro samba school parades during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022...
A performer from the Viradouro samba school parades during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022...
A dancer from the Tom Maior samba school performs on a float during a carnival parade in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Andre ...
A performer from the Sao Clemente samba school sends a kiss to the people during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sa...
Dancers from the Tom Maior samba school perform during a carnival parade in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
Dancers from the Tom Maior samba school perform on a float during a carnival parade in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Andre Pe...
Performers from the Sao Clemente samba school parade on a float during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, Ap...
Dancers from the Tom Maior samba school perform during a carnival parade in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
Performers hold a banner against racism during the Beija Flor samba school parade during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Br...
Dancers from the Academicos do Tatuape samba school perform on a float during a carnival parade in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022. (AP Ph...

A performer from the Mangueira samba school parades during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, April 22, 2022. ...

Dancer from the Academicos do Tucuruvi samba school perform on a float during a carnival parade in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Friday, April 22, 2022. (AP Phot...

A performer from the Mangueira samba school parades during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, April 22, 2022. ...

Performers from the Mangueira samba school parade on a float during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, April 2...

A dancer from the Academicos do Tucuruvi samba school performs during a carnival parade in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Friday, April 22, 2022. (AP Photo/Andre ...

People attend the Mangueira samba school parade during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, April 22, 2022. (AP ...

Performers from the Imperatriz Leopoldinense samba school parade during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, Apr...

Dancer from the Academicos do Tucuruvi samba school perform during a carnival parade in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Friday, April 22, 2022. (AP Photo/Andre Pen...

A dancer from the Academicos do Tucuruvi samba school performs during a carnival parade in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Friday, April 22, 2022. (AP Photo/Andre ...

Children from the Mangueira samba school parade during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, April 22, 2022. (AP ...

Members of the Imperatriz Leopoldinense samba school performs during the Carnival parade at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, April 22...

A performer from the Mangueira samba school parades during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, April 22, 2022. ...

Performers from the Mangueira samba school parade during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, April 22, 2022. (A...

A performer from the Mangueira samba school parades during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, April 22, 2022. ...

A performer from the Imperatriz Leopoldinense samba school parades during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, A...

A performer from the Mangueira samba school parades during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, April 22, 2022. ...

Performers from the Imperatriz Leopoldinense samba school parade during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, Apr...

A member of the Imperatriz Leopoldinense samba school performs during the Carnival parade at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, April 2...

A member of the Imperatriz Leopoldinense samba school performs during the Carnival parade at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, April 2...

Members of the Imperatriz Leopoldinense samba school perform during the Carnival parade at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, April 22,...

A member of the Imperatriz Leopoldinense samba school performs during the Carnival parade at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, April 2...

Members of the Imperatriz Leopoldinense samba school perform during the Carnival parade at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, April 22,...

A member of the Imperatriz Leopoldinense samba school performs during the Carnival parade at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, April 2...

A performer from the Mangueira samba school parades during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, April 22, 2022. ...

Members of the Imperatriz Leopoldinense samba school perform during the Carnival parade at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, April 22,...

A performer from the Mangueira samba school parades during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, April 22, 2022. ...

Performers from the Mangueira samba school parade during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, April 22, 2022. (A...

Daniela Orcisse, princess of the Carnival, poses for a picture during the opening carnival parade in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Friday, April 22, 2022. (AP Ph...

A woman cries during the Mangueira samba school parade during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, April 22, 202...

People watch the Mangueira samba school parade during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, April 22, 2022. (AP P...

Dancers from the Academicos do Tucuruvi samba school perform on a float during a carnival parade in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Friday, April 22, 2022. (AP Pho...

Performers from the Mangueira samba school parade during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, April 22, 2022. (A...

A performer from the Mangueira samba school parades during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, April 22, 2022. ...

A dancer from the Mancha Verde samba school performs on a float during a carnival parade in Sao Paulo, Brazil, early Saturday, April 23, 2022. (AP Pho...

A performer from the Salgueiro samba school parades during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, early Saturday, April 23...

A dancer from the Academicos do Tatuape samba school performs during a carnival parade in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Andre...

A performer from the Viradouro samba school parades during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022...

A performer from the Beija Flor samba school parades during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 202...

A dancer from the Academicos do Tatuape samba school performs during a carnival parade in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Andre...

A dancer from the Academicos do Tatuape samba school performs during a carnival parade in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Andre...

Dancers from the Academicos do Tatuape samba school perform during a carnival parade in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Andre P...

Dancers from the Academicos do Tatuape samba school perform on a float during a carnival parade in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022. (AP Ph...

A performer from the Beija Flor samba school parades during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 202...

A performer from the Beija Flor samba school parades during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 202...

People watch the Beija Flor samba school parade during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022. (A...

A performer from the Beija Flor samba school parades during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 202...

A performer from the Beija Flor samba school parades during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 202...

Performers from the Beija Flor samba school parade during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022....

Women cheer during the Beija Flor samba school parade during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 20...

Performers from the Beija Flor samba school parade during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022....

Performers from the Beija Flor samba school parade during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022....

Performers from the Beija Flor samba school parade on a float during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, Apri...

Performers from the Beija Flor samba school parade during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022....

Performers from the Beija Flor samba school parade on a float during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, Apri...

Drum queen Erika Januza from the Viradouro samba school performs during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Brazil, Sat...

Drummers from the Unidos da Vila Maria samba school perform during a carnival parade in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Andre P...

Dancers from the Unidos da Vila Maria samba school perform on a float during a carnival parade in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022. (AP Pho...

A dancer from the Unidos da Vila Maria samba school performs on a float during a carnival parade in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022. (AP P...

A performer from the Viradouro samba school parades during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022...

Dancers from the Unidos da Vila Maria samba school perform on a float during a carnival parade in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022. (AP Pho...

Drummers from the Unidos da Vila Maria samba school perform during a carnival parade in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Andre P...

A performer from the Viradouro samba school parades during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022...

A performer from the Viradouro samba school parades during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022...

Performers from the Viradouro samba school parade on a float during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, April...

Performers from the Viradouro samba school parade on a float during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, April...

A performer from the Viradouro samba school parades during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022...

A performer from the Viradouro samba school parades during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022...

A performer from the Viradouro samba school parades during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022...

A performer from the Viradouro samba school parades during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022...

A performer from the Viradouro samba school parades during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022...

A performer from the Viradouro samba school parades during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022...

A performer from the Viradouro samba school parades during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022...

A dancer from the Tom Maior samba school performs on a float during a carnival parade in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Andre ...

A performer from the Sao Clemente samba school sends a kiss to the people during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sa...

Dancers from the Tom Maior samba school perform during a carnival parade in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

Dancers from the Tom Maior samba school perform on a float during a carnival parade in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Andre Pe...

Performers from the Sao Clemente samba school parade on a float during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, Ap...

Dancers from the Tom Maior samba school perform during a carnival parade in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

Performers hold a banner against racism during the Beija Flor samba school parade during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Br...

Dancers from the Academicos do Tatuape samba school perform on a float during a carnival parade in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Saturday, April 23, 2022. (AP Ph...

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Colorful floats and flamboyant dancers are delighting tens of thousands jammed into Rio de Janeiro's iconic Sambadrome, putting on a delayed Carnival celebration after the pandemic halted the dazzling displays.

Rio de Janeiro’s top samba schools began strutting their stuff late Friday, which was the first evening of the two-night spectacle.

Ketula Melo, 38, a muse in the Imperatriz Leopoldinense school dressed as the Iemanja deity of Afro-Brazilian religions, was thrilled to be back at the Sambadrome.

“These two years were horrible. Now we can be happy again,” Melo said as she was about to enter Friday night wearing a black and white costume made of shells that barely covered her body.

Rio's Sambadrome has been home to the parade since the 1980s, and is a symbol of Brazil's Carnival festivities. During the pandemic, it was a shelter for more than 400 homeless people and also served as a vaccination station.

Brazil confirmed its first cases of the coronavirus in mid-March 2020, just after that year's Carnival festivities came to an end. The 2021 edition was swiftly cancelled due to the rise of the delta variant. More than 663,000 people have died from COVID-19 in Brazil, the second highest of any country in the world, according to Our World in Data, an online research site.

Entire communities rally around the competing samba schools, whose shows are not only a source of pride but also employment since preparations require countless seamstresses, welders, costume designers and more. There are months of rehearsals for dancers and drummers, so participants can learn the tune and the lyrics for their school's song. The pandemic upended these samba schools' way of life for two years.

Sao Paulo also kicked off its Carnival parade Friday evening. Both cities' parades usually take place in February or March, but their mayors in January jointly announced they were postponing Carnival by two months due to concerns about the proliferation of the omicron variant.

The number of COVID-19 cases and deaths has plunged since then, and more than three-quarters of Brazilians are fully vaccinated, according to the country's health ministry. Local authorities have allowed soccer matches with full attendance since March.

Rio authorities said earlier this week those attending the parade would have to show proof of vaccination, but media reports showed that attendees had no trouble getting tickets or entering the Sambadrome without showing the required documents.

A seat in the bleachers cost about $50, and the most expensive seats can cost more than $1,260. Going out in one of the samba schools costs a lot for tourists, but it is often free for people who are involved with the parade all year round, like 66-year-old Juciara do Nascimento Santos. She was among the revelers starting this year's parade with the Imperatriz Leopoldinense samba school.

“We had to take care of ourselves during this time so we could be here today celebrating life,” said Santos, who has paraded with Imperatriz Leopoldinense since 1984. This time she was in the section of the baianas, often reserved for the oldest women of each samba school. Many of these samba schools reported they lost many of their baianas to the virus.

For those unwilling to shell out for the price of admission, there were street parties across Rio — despite City Hall denying authorization for them to take place, citing insufficient time to prepare. Some organizers couldn't care less, arguing that celebrating Carnival wasn't contingent on authorities' consent, and partiers hit the streets in force.

___

Savarese reported from Sao Paulo.