Human festivities scrapped, Rio’s Carnival goes to the dogs

Human festivities scrapped, Rio’s Carnival goes to the dogs

Boquino, dressed in a clown costume, sits on stage peppered with confetti during the annual dog Carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021. Rio's Carnival festivities were canceled due to the new coronavirus pandemic, but pet lovers from around the city gathered for the tradition that drew participants with their furry, four-legged companions to compete for best costume. (Credit: Silvia Izquierdo/AP.)

Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival festivities may have been canceled, but nobody told the dogs.

RIO DE JANEIRO — Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival festivities may have been canceled, but nobody told the dogs.

Pet lovers from around the city gathered on Saturday for an annual event that draws dozens of humans with their furry, four-legged companions to compete for best costume.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the street parties and traditional parades at the Sambadrome were canceled to avoid crowds, but the dogs had their day anyway with the “Blocao”. The word is a mixture of “bloco” that refers to the traditional Carnival street parties and “cao” — dog in Portuguese.

Francisca poses with her pet dog Eva during the annual dog Carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021. (Credit: Silvia Izquierdo/AP.)

Cleo, dressed in a Snow White costume, attends the annual dog Carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021. (Credit: Silvia Izquierdo/AP.)

Sandy, dressed in a costume, participates in the annual dog Carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021. (Credit: Silvia Izquierdo/AP.)

Owners and their pets take part in the annual dog Carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021. (Credit: Silvia Izquierdo/AP.)

Dozens of costumed dogs joined their owners for a Carnival parade inside a private club in the Recreio dos Bandeirantes neighborhood. The parade normally takes place along Avenida Atlantica bordering Copacabana beach, but this year Rio´s mayor banned any public celebration.

“The Cariocas (as Rio’s residents are called) carry the joy of Carnival in their veins. We invited a restricted audience for a commemorative and distanced event that prevents Carnival 2021 from ending as if nothing had happened,” said Marco Antonio Marinho, 66, who has been organizing the canine parade for 18 years.

“In this pandemic, many people adopted dogs to cure their loneliness in isolation. Faced with COVID-19, we are together with our dogs,” he said.

Sofia, 11, kisses her pet dog Sandy at the annual dog Carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021. (Credit: Silvia Izquierdo/AP.)

Cleo, dressed in a Snow White costume, stands on a stage peppered with confetti during the annual dog Carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021. (Credit: Silvia Izquierdo/AP.)

Boquino, dressed in a clown costume, is held by his owner during the annual dog Carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021. (Credit: Silvia Izquierdo/AP.)

Eva, dressed in a doctor costume, sits with her owner on a stage peppered with confetti during the annual dog Carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021. (Credit: Silvia Izquierdo/AP.)

Out on the parade floor were Boquino, a dog dressed in a clown costume and Cleo in a Snow White outfit, as well as a red-bedecked Sandy.

For many participants, the pet parade was an opportunity to leave confinement for a moment and regain some of the usual Carnival joy.

“I could not miss the parade today. It is a spacious, airy and very familiar place,” said Francisca Freire, who joined the parade with a Yorkshire dog, Eve, dressed like a doctor in a medical apron, with a mask and stethoscope. Freire and her dog have participated in the pet parades for six years.

“It is an escape from quarantine. Actually, the dogs are taking us for a walk,” Freide added.

A woman sprinkles confetti on a dog as she waits for the start of the annual dog Carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021. (Credit: Silvia Izquierdo/AP.)

Dogs and their owners take part in the annual dog Carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021. (Credit: Silvia Izquierdo/AP.)

A dog takes part in the annual dog Carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021. (Credit: Silvia Izquierdo/AP.)

Cleo, dressed in a Snow White costume, is held by her owner during the annual dog Carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021. (Credit: Silvia Izquierdo/AP.)

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