Rio de Janeiro Carnival 2011: The First Night [Gallery]

A Carnival parade paying samba-fuelled hommage to Hollywood hits including “Avatar,” “Jaws” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark” roused cheers Monday in Rio de Janeiro as days of festivities reached their peak.

Carnival fever has taken hold in Rio de Janeiro, where a samba-fuelled parade playing homage to some of Hollywood’s top films rousing cheers amongst the crowds.

A roar went up as the opening act came out: a group of ghouls modelled on The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.

The crowd-pleasing hits included a Nightmare on Elm Street moment and a mechanical shark bursting out of a moving pool with a live boy in its mouth in the style of Jaws.

Not even Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen, who played the goddess Venus in the parade put on by another school, Unidos de Vila Isabel, won as much attention as Unidos de Tijuca’s entry.

Gisele was proudly watched from the audience by her American football player husband Tom Brady and fellow celebrities Jude Law and Pamela Anderson.

“I love it. I think about this all the time. It’s nice to see it live,” said the former Baywatch actress.

Also taking part in the event was Brazilian footballer Ronaldinho, who wore a white suit and fedora as he did the samba with the Portela Samba School.

Elsewhere in the Sambodrome, some of the 800,000 tourists in Rio for Carnival also cheered and danced along to the parades.

The parade was one of six shows put on in an all-night climax to Rio’s Carnival partying, which began late on Friday and ends on Wednesday.

Another six shows are to round out the parades on Monday night, finishing before dawn on Tuesday. [via The Telegraph (UK), Sydney Morning Herald and DAWN]

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