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Rio revels despite rain on the parade

Women in street
Some costumes weigh up to 160 lbs.  
February 21, 1998
Web posted at: 11:53 p.m. EST (0453 GMT)

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (CNN) -- The Fat King this week began his symbolic reign over Rio's world-famous Carnival, leading the first parade to kick off the annual pre-Lenten festival.

The unpredictable weather kept many Brazilians watching nervously toward the skies. Several strong thunderstorms struck the coast this week, congesting traffic and flooding streets in several cities.

But thousands of revelers throughout Brazil danced, sang and paraded during the first days of Carnival, which officially began Friday.

"It's pure adrenaline," one scantily clad dancer told reporters as she paraded through Rio's famed "samba dome," the open mall where most of the parades take place.

The Fat King, who received a symbolic key to the city, this year weighed in at a whopping 475 pounds. For the second year in a row, the 26-year-old Alex de Oliveira Silva holds the title. The Fat King traditionally reigns until Ash Wednesday, which falls this year on February 26.

Reuters contributed to this report.


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