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Rio's Christ statue welcomes Taylor Swift with open arms

By Agence France-Presse Published Nov 18, 2023 9:27 am

After lobbying from "Swifties," Rio de Janeiro's Christ the Redeemer statue was lit up to welcome Taylor Swift to Brazil ahead of a concert as part of her global blockbuster Eras Tour.

As die-hard fans gathered at the famed statue atop Corcovado mountain and in the square below, the giant monument went dark Thursday night, Nov. 16 then was reilluminated wearing a light-projection tribute to Swift's Junior Jewels T-shirt, from her video You Belong With Me.

"Welcome to Brasil," it said—in English, but using the Portuguese spelling of "Brazil"—with the names of the country's 27 states scrawled across it.

Fans were ecstatic.

"I'm going to cry. What matters most to me is her seeing it, her smiling, her being happy," said Rafaela Martins Lopes, one of those who flocked to the statue.

The tribute to the US pop sensation came after fans inundated social media with calls to give her a fitting welcome to the South American country.

The Catholic rector responsible for the Christ the Redeemer statue, Omar Raposo, responded with a challenge on Instagram: Raise 300,000 reais (P3.3 million) for charity, and he would organize a special message.

The response was so overwhelming it temporarily crashed the fundraising site handling the campaign.

By Friday afternoon, Nov. 17, less than 24 hours later, the goal had been met, organizers said.

"Young people like a challenge. So we channeled the fans' energy for good," Raposo said in a statement.

The donations are being used to give out food baskets to the homeless to mark the World Day of the Poor on Sunday, Nov. 19, an initiative launched by Pope Francis.

Organizers said they would continue accepting donations through Sunday, which is the last day of Swift's three-night stop in Rio.

On Rio's spectacular Guanabara Bay, a giant Ferris wheel was also lit up in tribute to Swift Thursday, with the message, "Love's a Game, Wanna Play?"—a lyric from her hit song Blank Space. (AFP)