By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – While the Carnival holiday officially ended on February 10th, the street parties known as blocos continued through the weekend, with popular Monobloco helping to close out the celebrations on Sunday, February 14th. This followed the closing night of the 2016 Carnival competition at the Sambódromo on Saturday, February 13th, whereby the top six schools returned for the Champions Parade, including winning school Mangueira.
There were 505 blocos licensed in Rio for the 2016 Carnival, and according to Riotur, the city’s tourism department, an estimated 350,000 people joined the closing Monobloco this year as the street parade made its way from Rua Primeiro de Março to Avenida Antônio Carlos in Centro.
Created in 2000 by members of the Brazilian rock band, Pedro Luís e A Parede, Monobloco made a name for themselves by combining multiple rhythms including axé, MPB, samba-rock, and funk with the traditional samba and samba march sounds.
Monobloco would go on to become an internationally recognized tour group, playing in the United Kingdom, Portugal, Australia, and New Zealand, among other locations. During the lead up to Carnival, Monobloco is known to hold public rehearsals at the Fundição Progresso venue in Lapa that attract thousands of people.
This year for the first time in its sixteen-year history, Monobloco featured Rainha de Bateria (Queen of the Percussion Section). Singer and actress Emanuelle Araujo took on the role of the bloco’s first Rainha de Bateria, parading dressed as the Queen of the Hearts.
“I’m super happy to be here with Monobloco, which I love, and for which I have the greatest passion” Araujo told G1. “Today I chose to be the Queen of Hearts because this is just love.”
The final night of celebrations in the Sambódromo took place on Saturday February 13th for the Champions Parade, with winning school Mangueira parading along with the the top five schools; Unidos da Tijuca, Portela, Salgueiro, Beija-Flor, and Imperatriz.
First time Carnival goer Elizabeth Pepper was among the 90,000 people the attended, “you watch the Carnival parades on TV and they seem so spectacular and grand but up close the scale and extravagance is mind-blowing. Experiencing it live is one memory I will never forget.”
Over the 2016 Carnival period, approximately one million tourists were expected to have visited the city with officials estimating that around US$740 million added to the local economy.