A crowd of revelers hundreds of thousands strong poured into downtown Rio de Janeiro on Saturday to celebrate Carnival to the rhythm of the Cordão da Bola Preta street band while trying to win a place in the Guinness World Records for the world's largest Carnival troupe.

The samba-dancing throng set out at dawn from the downtown area near La Candelaria Church and headed up Rio Branco Avenue to Cinelandia Plaza, following five large trucks with orchestras on top that drove slowly ahead of the multitude.

Leading the parade was the principal truck, which, besides the musicians, carried the festival queen and muses dressed in black and white, the colors of the Cordão da Bola Preta band, a century-old festival institution that in recent years has led crowds of merrymakers on the Saturday of Carnival.

"The Rio Carnival only begins when the Bola Preta goes up the avenue. The Bola is an institution in Rio and that makes us feel very honored," the president of the music group, Pedro Ernesto, told reporters before setting off at the head of the massive parade.

To set a Guinness record, the Cordão da Bola Preta must surpass the crowd following the Galo de Madrugada, another Carnival band, but in the northeastern city of Recife, which also parades on the Saturday of Carnival, and which, according to its organizers, would attract 2.5 million people. EFE