By Claire Rivé, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Carnival’s top honor was awarded to Unidos da Tijuca on Wednesday afternoon as the 2014 Carnival G.R.E.S. (Special Group) competition results were announced, with Acadêmicos do Salgueiro in second place and Portela, União da Ilha, Imperatriz Leopoldinense and Acadêmicos do Grande Rio filling out the rest of the top six.
Supporters of the top samba schools gathered at the Sambódromo and the various schools’ quadras (rehearsal halls) from early in the afternoon to await the judges’ verdict, creating a festive atmosphere as the rest of the city laid low after the biggest party in the world ended on Tuesday.
The 2010 Carnival champions Unidos da Tijuca honored late Brazilian racing legend Ayrton Senna this year with their ‘Acelera, Tijuca!’ (Accelerate, Tijuca!) theme and the judges bestowed special praise on the school for their bateria’s (drum section) performance and general happiness.
The racetrack-like stretch of Marquês de Sapucaí was used to the Tijuca theme’s advantage by carnavalesco (Carnaval designer) Paulo Barros who created consistently interesting costumes for each section of the parade and made every division, from the life-size race car to the final float, seem like a constant stream of speedy movement.
Last year’s winners, Unidos de Villa Isabel, didn’t make it into the top six this year even though their ‘Retratos de Um Brasil Plural’ (Portraits of a Diverse Brazil) spanned the epic landscape of Brazil, representing each state, from Amazonas to proudly Gaúcho Rio Grande do Sul.
For those who couldn’t catch any of the live action during the main events, Unidos da Tijuca and the five other top placing schools will be taking part in the Champions’ Parade on Saturday, March 8th at the Sambódromo. Tickets to the Champions’ event are also much cheaper than the extremely pricey main event and offer a great last look at Carnival’s top attraction as the final door closes behind this year’s festivities.
Read more (in Portuguese).
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