Leading a colourful float procession along a three-km route on the city’s main street, King Momo, mythical king of carnival, on Saturday ushered in his three-day mock-rule of pre-Lent festivities of fun, music, dance and frolic in Goa. As the colourfully decorated float of the State Tourism drove past with King Momo atop waving to the crowds, the revellers greeted him with chants of “Viva Carnival”.

Carnival revellers who had gathered in large numbers enjoyed the spectacular parade, which had nearly 30 colourful floats with varied themes. While many floats as usual showcased the fun side and traditions of Goa, some floats focussed on social themes like environmental consciousness and safety, and women’s empowerment. With the election drawing closer, a float with a dinosaur cautioned voters to be wary as “political dinosaurs are back” and urged them to vote for “corruption-free candidates”.

Contrary to the State’s claim of massive tourist arrivals, the presence of foreign tourists this year for the parade was noticeably low.

With the traditional people’s festival having evolved itself as a major highlight on the State’s annual tourism calendar, Goa Tourism had predicted 2.5 lakh footfalls for this year’s carnival. The carnival float parade will move on to Margao in south Goa on Sunday, Vasco city of south Goa on Monday and Mapusa in north Goa on Tuesday.

The City Corporation of Panaji kept off the main float parade for the first time following protests by City Mayor Surendra Furtado that Tourism Minister Dilip Parulekar failed to take the CCP into confidence. Earlier, Deputy Chief Minister Francisco D’Souza flagged off the parade in the presence of Mr. Parulekar.

The other event, Goan food and cultural festival, held by the State Tourism in collaboration with the hospitality industry alongside the carnival, continued to attract big crowds since its inauguration at Merces near here on Friday.

Coastal Goa will come alive with entertainment programmes, live music and dance events over the next three days. Goan villages will witness “people’s carnival” — locally called Intruj — with traditional events like “Khell-Tiatro.”