Rio de Janeiro, Feb 9 (IANS/EFE): Mayor Eduardo Paes presented the keys to Brazil's second-largest city Friday to King Momo, the traditional sovereign of the Rio de Janeiro Carnival.
The ceremony was held at city hall, a large colonial building which Friday was the scene of a samba parade, a prelude to the wild partying with that will fill the streets until Wednesday.
King Momo, a jolly fat man who reigns over the city during Carnival, arrived at city hall in a 1929 Ford Phantom convertible, accompanied by the Carnival queen and princesses, already wearing his blue crown and an impeccable white suit aglitter with sequins.
The Carnival king has been acted since 2009 by bank employee Milton Rodrigues da Silva Junior, 33.
Paes, with a white Panama hat and a wreath of blue feathers around his neck, kissed King Momo's hand and, with one knee to the ground, handed him the keys to the city with the notes of "Cidade Maravilhosa" (Marvellous City), the unofficial anthem of Rio de Janeiro, playing in the background.
Two municipal guards in formal garb then lowered the Olympic flag, which had waved in front of city hall since last August when Rio took over from London as Olympics organizer to prepare for the next Games in 2016.
The municipal guards folded the flag into a wooden box and took it to the Sambadrome, where the samba school parades will take to the streets Sunday and Monday nights.