Last year I watched part of the Rio Carnval parade on TV. I didn’t really understand how it could go all night and what was actually going on with the floats and costumes and drums and flags.

This year, I attended the “Special Group” parade in person at the Sambadrome Marquês de Sapucaí in Rio, the enormous parade ground that seats over 90,000 people and is half a mile long. Watching the parade on TV did not convey the immensity of the spectacle, the jaw dropping number of participants, the complexity of each schools thematic presentation. The “Special Group” is the highlight of the 4 day Carnaval parade event in Rio. I was on my feet from 9pm until 6am the next morning seeing 6 different schools perform: São Clemente, Portela, Beija-Flor, União da Ilha, Imperatriz and Unidos da Tijuca.