Dazzling displays of dance, singing and sensuality are enthralling Brazilians and tourists alike with the world’s biggest carnival, Mardi Gras, in full swing. Though the emphasis of the parade is on the party, many of the songs broach serious issues such as sexual and racial equality.And beneath the glamour is tough competition. In Rio de Janeiro, the city’s 14 elite samba schools are all vying for the carnival crown. In the US storm-ravaged city of New Orleans, residents have been showing the world that they have not lost their party spirit, as Mayor Ray Nagin explains: “There is a new day coming. A new day where all people come together to do something very special. And they are the reason why we are having Mardi Gras in 2006. So let’s celebrate.”
With more than expected numbers of tourists streaming into the city, authorities hope this year’s Mardi Gras will give New Orleans a well deserved boost.