Rio de Janeiro Struggles With Canceled Carnival Parade

An annual event takes an unprecedented break

Coronavirus And Carnival In Rio De Janeiro
Atmosphere of the carnival preparation in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on October 2, 2020.
Fabio Teixeira/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Rio de Janiero’s annual Carnival parade is an iconic event that draws revelers from all over the world, turning a local tradition into something savored by viewers from across the globe. But the global pandemic has prompted the unthinkable to take place: the parade, next slated to take place in February, has been canceled.

A moving article by Manuela Andreoni and Ernesto Londoño at The New York Times explores both how unprecedented this decision is and what its repercussions are on the city as a whole. It’s the first time since 1932 that the parade has been canceled — though the article also notes that Carnival celebrations were not stopped by the influenza in 1918.

As Andreoni and Londoño note, the loss of the parade isn’t simply about the absence of a festive atmosphere and a loss of work for people involved in the parade. They point out that preparations for the celebration create an egalitarian atmosphere that brings a diverse group of people together: “The months leading up to the party are time when people from all walks of life gather in large warehouses to build elaborate floats mounted on trucks, try on costumes and rehearse choreographies.”

The carnival has also served as a way for the people to criticize political corruption — an opportunity that will be lost with the event’s cancelation.

For a country already in the midst of political turbulence — and whose head of state tested positive for the coronavirus earlier this year — it’s a disconcerting number of factors all converging at once. The parade may not be happening next year, but the emotions that animate it will still be present.

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