By Michela DellaMonica, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL — Victory was awarded once again by the team of Carnival judges to Unidos da Tijuca as the 2014 Carnival Champions, announced Wednesday, March 4th. The samba school, along with runners up, Salgueiro, Portela, União da Ilha, Imperatriz and Grande Rio returned to the Sambódromo to conclude Carnival 2014 as part of the Champions Parade on Saturday, March 8th.
The procession took place in front of 80,000 spectators with a thirty-minute delay due to rain. With Grande Rio leading the way, they reenacted their theme commemorating the municipality of Maricá, a city situated on the coast of Rio de Janeiro state about 20 km away from Niterói, and approximately 60 km north from the city of Rio.
Imperatriz Leopoldinense was the second school to proceed down Marquês da Sapucaí, which took fifth place in the 2014 competition. With this year’s theme “Arthur X – O Reino do Galinho de Ouro na Corte da Imperatriz” (“Arthur X – The Kingdom of the Golden Cockerel at the Court of the Empress”), Carnavalesco (Carnival Designer) Cahê Rodrigues was able to bring the samba school back to the Champions Parade for the second time. Imperatiz also honored the great former Flamengo soccer player, Zico, in the parade with him dancing on top of a float.
União da Ilha, which placed fourth, returned to the Champions Parade after twenty years, and with merit. They were the third school to proceed down the Sambódromo and paraded with the theme of child play and toys. A highlight of the parades this season was their “Commisão de Frente” or Front Commission with choreographed dances and two Australian acrobats swinging from side to side on a tall pogo stick as if they were flying.
The fourth school to parade was Portela. As third runner up in this year’s competition, Portela made a beautiful tribute to Rio de Janeiro. A constant throughout Portela’s history is their emblem, an eagle with its wings spread wide and this year it flew around the parade by remote control.
The second to last school to parade and runner up in this year’s competition Salgueiro, also won O Globo’s Gold Banner Award (Estandarte de Ouro, do Jornal O Globo). Their theme represented “Gaia, life in our hands,” which celebrated the relation between man and earth. The school had 4,100 participants and used Greek mythology to reenact their theme.
The final school to parade down the Sambódromo for the Champions Parade was this year’s winners Unidos da Tijuca. With their theme, “Accelerate, Tijuca!” the school paid tribute to Brazilian race car driver, Ayrton Senna, along with other characters that represented speed such as jaguars and trains. This is the fourth victory for Casagrande, the school’s drum line director, who scored a ten in one of the most important categories of the judging process.