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Carnival queen (7) breaks down in tears

She was cheered by legions of Carnival fans, but seven-year-old Julia Lira, the youngest drum corps queen in memory at Rio de Janeiro's lavish party, didn't dance and broke down crying upon realising she was the centre of attention.

Dressed in a sequinned halter top and a miniskirt made of purple feathers, the youngster shuffled through the first 50 yards of the parade. Her father -- the president of the parading Viradouro samba group -- then took her by the hand and presented her to the crowd. She smiled for the photographers.

But 10 minutes into the group's parade and surrounded by dozens of photographers and TV cameramen, the youngster broke down in tears and was scooped up into the arms of her unofficial handler, the group's spokeswoman Joice Hurtado, and taken away.



Whisked

After a five-minute cool down, Julia returned to her place in front of the group's massive drum line, but was quickly whisked through the parade grounds by her father and out of the media's eye.

It was not clear if the girl left the parade all together -- the Globo television network, with exclusive rights to coverage of the event, didn't show her again.

Before the parade began, Julia's father, Marco Lira, said that "she's happy, she is ready to dance". But some in the audience thought she was not ready for the spotlight.

"She is too young to be a drum corps queen," said Marister Deniz (60), who was watching from the stands. "A girl that size shouldn't be thrust in such a role."

But Jorge Elias Souza, a member of the Viradouro drum corps, said he was proud of the girl regardless.

"She is the embodiment of all the love in our school. Normally a famous person is the drum corps queen, but her father is our president and she is the centre of our family," he said.

Putting Julia in the Carnival role drew the ire of child welfare advocates who were against a seven-year-old taking on a role normally reserved for models and actresses.

Carlos Nicodemos, director of the Rio de Janeiro state Council for the Defence of Children and Adolescents, two weeks ago asked a judge to keep the girl from dancing, arguing that "what we can't allow is putting a seven-year-old girl in a role that traditionally for Carnival has a very sexual focus".

hnews@herald.ie


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