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Little Brazil Gets Psyched Up for Brazilian Day

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On a normal day, 46th Street, which is marked with a small "Little Brazil Street" sign, looks like any other midtown side street. But on Sunday, 1.5 million people are expected to descend on the 25 blocks surrounding 46th Street for the annual celebration of Brazilian Independence Day, which falls a day later on September 7th.

Starting at 11 A.M., 6th Avenue between 34th and 46th streets will be packed shoulder to shimmying shoulder with revelers dressed in patriotic yellow and green who are there to take in big-name concerts, a big-time party and the utter Brazilianness of it all.

The headliners this year are the uber-popular country duo Zézé di Camargo and Luciano. TV personality Luciano Huck will be the MC, and there's the added buzz of a surprise guest.

Brazilian Day organizer João de Matos is the owner of a handful of Brazilian-inspired business, including the upscale Plataforma restaurant and a travel agency catering to the Brazilian community. Though he says the party loses money every year—this year he says it cost $500,000—he feels he owes it to the Brazilian community.

"They work the whole year, they have problems like everybody else," de Matos says. "If they can't go to Brazil, OK. I want one weekend a year to bring Brazil to them."

For this year's Brazilian Day, 150 busloads of people from eight different states are set to arrive Sunday morning. Though he doesn't have anything against the party, Paulo Knobel feels nostalgic for the small block parties from the mid 1980's when Brazilian Day began. "Those were real Brazilian Days. Now it's like a street party," Knobel says.

The bubbly sounds of Portuguese will be heard from street to street this weekend, but you don't need a Brazilian passport to attend the celebration. Photographer Franz Gordon says all of his friends are Brazilian. "Brazilian culture is one of the most inclusive cultures in the world. It has a rhythm, and a beat, and a heart," he says. 

Check out a few photos below of Little Brazil Street, and stay tuned for more photos of Brazilian Day 2010.