RIO DE JANIERO – Little Sophia Souza got the best seat in this city's most beautiful house.
The 10-month old Cariocan baby in a Brazilian soccer onesie sat in a tiny white chair on Thursday morning, in a cabana overlooking Copacabana Beach and the sea beyond. A fan fest here on the sand is expected to draw a quarter-million people by the time the World Cup kicks off at 5 p.m. local time.
It was quiet in Sophia's little perch, which was cordoned off for families, but it was boisterous below, as fans in yellow and green lined up along the beach early in the morning. The line to get in extended a half-mile before noon.
There was hardly a complaint, as fans danced the samba and stared either at the waves lapping toward them to their right, or the men and women in swimsuits walking by to their left. The thrum of the music and cheering could be heard (and felt) all around. Even the hearty contingent of Argentina fans, decked out in their nation's famous blue and white jerseys, eagerly joined the party.
There was the trace of something more sobering, as police were in full military gear along the seaside and especially across the street in front of the hotels. Protests are expected throughout the day.
But protests are unlikely here on the sand, in Brazil's most famous slice of paradise. Not with a behemoth screen broadcasting futbol to a mob of rabid soccer fans who have come from across the street or all over the world.
That includes little Sophia, who may just last the afternoon in her sanctuary. She grinned as she colored with her parents looking on.
She had the top floor of the cabana all to herself.