Dogs in glittery costumes parade in Rio de Janeiro as pet lovers kick off Carnival

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AP) — As Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival celebrations kicked off on Saturday, dozens of dogs dressed as mermaids, superheroes, butterflies and clowns paraded alongside their owners in one of the city’s most beloved canine street parties.

The Blocão — a play on words that joins “bloco,” which refers to Carnival street parties and “cão,” or dog in Portuguese — gathered over 200 people in Rio’s beachside Barra de Tijuca neighborhood on Saturday morning. Clad in tulle and sequins, fluffy fashionistas took part in a contest to choose the day’s top costumes.

On a small stage in the middle of a leafy square, pups of all sizes and breeds strutted and wagged their tails. Organizers announced the contestants over a microphone, as confetti rained down.

Alana the chihuahua was dressed as a glittery mermaid, Trinde the cocker spaniel as a cape-wearing Hermione, and Bidu the Shih-tzu as a furry Superman. Scooby Doo, a massive pit monster, was a crowd-pleaser as a lion with an unruly golden mane.

Paçoca, a 2-year-old dachshund with 100,000 followers on Instagram, paraded as a hot dog – stuffed in a bun and topped with ketchup and mustard.

“He’s an influencer,” said his owner Helena Ribeiro, 32, who wore a red shirt emblazoned with a Heinz ketchup label. Paçoca’s costume, she said, was inspired by his breed. “It suits him!”

Rodrigo Pirola and Cecilia Myrele, both 39, came dressed as Fred and Wilma Flintstone, matching their 4-year-old basset hound Amora, who wore an orange dress inspired by Pebbles Flintstone.

“Amora is our daughter; we are a family. We go everywhere together,” Myrele told the Associated Press. “Here, everybody is crazy in love with dogs.”

Carolina Eduardo, 27, dressed her 13-year-old sand-colored mutt Rebeca in a Snow White costume, pinning a glossy dark wig between her ears as “the cherry on top.”

Channeling Rio’s ubiquitous ice tea hawkers — a staple of the city’s beaches — Charlotte, a 3-year-old border collie mix, wore an orange outfit and carried two miniature tin kegs on her back.

“I love Carnival, I love parties,” said her owner, Veronica Beck, 47, as fellow dog lovers snapped pictures of Charlotte. “It’s this moment of joy. And it’s a way to celebrate this with our dogs. Because they also bring such joy to our lives.”

The pups and their owners braved searing temperatures to take part in the bloco. Organizers distributed water and goodie bags with treats, as canine participants panted in the shade, their tongues hanging out.

“This year, the heat is not making it easy for us,” said organizer Marco Antonio Veira, known as “Toto.” He noted a major concern was the overheating asphalt, which could scald paws. “We have to preserve the well-being of the animals.”

Following the costume competition, the bloco began to weave around the square as dog lovers and their pets swayed and shimmied to the rhythm of Brazilian pop classics.

Twin sisters Daniely and Flavia Mendes, both 43, were among the revelers, singing along with the crowd. They have been taking part in the bloco nearly every year for the past decade and, on Saturday, they brought their identical Shih-tzus, one dressed as Superman and the other clad in a colorful, hand-made clown costume.

“For dog parents, it’s a way for us to have fun,” said Daniely Mendes. “It brings our community together.”