The New Years Eve celebration here in
Copacabana was truly spectacular. And I will add that New Years is MUCH MORE FUN when it's not freezing outside. It was a warm 80's here at midnight--not the freezing cold of Utah and New York that made me never wanna go anywhere on that night.
But let me back up.
The day, no the week, has pretty much been rain all day and night, off and on, but WET. So everyone was thinking the big planned celebration was just gonna be a wet mess.
Instead, around 6 p.m. the light rain stopped, and by midnight, the moon peaked through the remaining clouds. It was a beautiful night. Plus, since it had rained so much the past several days, it allowed the sand on the beach to become more packed and easier to walk on. So the THREE huge stages they'd build on the beach were easily accessible even with tennis shoes--although my bedroom floor now has a light dusting of sand from taking them off last night.
The night was great, but even more fun because my friend Mark, who's been working on producing the whole event, got me Backstage and VIP passes--it's nice to be special at these kind of events, I'm finding out--where food, drinks and preferred viewing stages were made available thoughout the night. Too bad they couldn't actually get Beyonce to perform--but she was asking $3 million to do a 30 minute show--so instead I got Brasilian artisits--all good but I didn't know any of them.
As you can see by the pictures, the fireworks show is spectacular, with several barges spanning the 4K beach, and synchronized to music as they light up the sky.
The people lined the beach to see the spectacle...and it was that. PEOPLE EVERYWHERE. Think of it, the state of Utah has about 2.7 million people. They calculated over 2 million people cam and packed themselves into a 1.5 mile stretch of beach about 80 yards wide, and you start to get the idea.
Towards the end, we moved to another stage and I was able to watch two of the large SAMBA schools perform on stage...although I don't really "get it", the Brasilian love for Samba, THEY DO, and they were having a great time both on stage and in the audience dancing in the sand to the samba beat (which is all precussion...loud, forceful, and happy).
The stages performed until about 3 a.m. and by then 1/2 the people had tried to head home--which I did too.
But getting home wasn't that easy for most...for example, the subway stop near my apartment had a line going about a quarter mile JUST TO GET IN TO A CAR. Can you imagine! And that was at 3 a.m. I can only imagine how long it mus have been at 1 a.m.
But remember, last night I was VIP, so I walked right past them all (as my apt is just a block from the subway stop) and fell into my bed, where I slept until 10:30 a.m....and decided to wake and write this...lucky me, lucky yous! :)
CHUCK HER INTO THE SEA
The new year is also celebrated with the Brasilian Umbanda religion through what they refer to as the Festival of Iemanja--the Goddess of the Water.
Throughout the day, the vendors on the street were lined up selling white gladiolas. Most brasilians have adopted the tradition of walking to the beach and making their new years wishes, and then throwing their flowers into the water...watching their wishes float out to be accepted by the Goddess Iemanja.
This part of the celebration also played out on stage tonight--but it had been condensed into pretty much a stage show...the small group of 50 or so sing and dance on stage and then the group (all dressed in white) follow a man carry a statue of the goddess to the sea. The men are carrying a small boat filled with money and flowers, the women carry flowers and following behind the boat dance as they make their way to the water's edge. Once there, the lead guy offers some prayer to the statue Iemanja he's carrying--which I didn't understand--and then launches the boat out to sea to the cheers of all.
From what I get, the fisherman think doing so will help them with their catches during the year. But it has also taken on some carnal aspects, as the Goddess is also known as the Goddess of Carnal Pleasures, where peoples' carnal lives will be better if the worship and are blessed by the Goddess.
I'm guessing a good part of the flowers bought during the day had to do more with this then the fish catch...wink wink.
Anyway, I wasn't that impressed. I expected more, thousands of people walking backwards into the sea and coming out renewed--a couple did this but, nah, not what I expected.
THE BEST TO YOU ALL
I do wish everyone a prosperous and joyous NEW YEAR...can you believe it..2010. It sounds like a good number. Good things will happen, I'm confident.