Best Way to Save Money on a Trip to Rio - 2003
San Francisco's Carnaval Parade and Festival
OK, so the hookers, pickpockets, and public drunkenness are less pronounced, but otherwise, San Francisco's Carnaval lives up to the spirit of its South American cousins, with its warm confluence of Latin and African rhythms. Lavishly decorated floats and Brazilian-style escola contingents parade through the Mission on what is usually a balmy Sunday (three months after the more traditional pre-Lenten February bacchanalia). Whistles and drumming propel the waves of dancers, whose costumes range from sequined bikinis and vibrant plumage to flowing Bahian gowns with head-wraps and parasols. Samba dancers shimmy and shake amid sparring, cartwheeling capoeiristas, ululating belly-dancers brandishing swords, and stilt-walkers with enormous papier-mâché heads bending to pat the noggins of small children. This year's Grand Parade, now in its 25th year, begins at 10 a.m. May 25 at 24th and Bryant streets, and winds down Mission Street; the festival, which offers samba lessons in the Dance Pavilion along with the ubiquitous meat on a stick, is held May 24 and 25 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., on Harrison between 16th and 22nd streets.