By Mary Bolling Blackiston, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Another season of Carnival came to a close last weekend with the Champions Parade at the Sambódromo, as well as around thirty more blocos. After 465 blocos raged across the city in another year of revelry, Cariocas did not miss the chance for a final weekend to get out and celebrate.
One of the main attractions was in Centro on Sunday where once again Monobloco wrapped up the season, bringing 450,000 people together on Avenida Rio Branco, ending in Cinelândia. The action started at 9AM sharp and had the “bateria” with 220 percussionists, in addition to the Queen of Pará, the singer Gaby Amarantos.
With Celso Alvim leading the battery as the conductor, the group was made up of a melange of men and women, which included students trained in Monobloco workshops during the year. The Carnaval parade marked the conclusion of the Monobloco workshops.
The crowd danced and celebrated to more than eighty different songs played by Monobloco over the course of the four-hour parade. A reported one hundred security guards, eighty transit operators, five ambulances and three medical stands, along with numerous garbage collectors, accompanied the parade.
Jason Swan, an American living in Rio, attended Monobloco and found it as high-energy as during the actual Carnival weekend. He told The Rio Times, “I think [it was] one of the best I went to and I was going to about two a day for about four days last weekend …. I think it had some of the best music [and] enthusiastic people.”
Carioca Camila Siqueira also attended Monobloco and said “[It was] really cool. I found them to be very crowded, as well. Many people travel during Carnival and for the post-Carnival blocos, most people have already come back from their travels, which makes the blocos even more crowded.”
Not everyone loves Carnival in Rio, as many locals tend to leave the city to avoid the crowds and inevitable mess that such large parties will create. One of the biggest complaints is public urination, and this year before the Carnival reached full force organizers promised 33 percent more bathroom facilities.
Authorities have responded by issuing more fines for public exposure, and on Sunday during the Monobloco, 82 people were taken to the police station for urinating on the street, including eight women and one foreigner.
Anyone caught exposing themselves on the street was given a fine of R$157. Over the course of this year’s Carnival blocos, a reported 720 people were brought to the police station for urinating in the street, a number which includes 162 women and 26 foreigners.
According to O Globo, Alex Costa, the secretary of Public Order, said in a statement, “The organization of parades in the blocos demonstrates that Rio is ready to host great events. This is a result of the work carried out by the city, through the Public Order, which started in 2010. We are investing in the future and in the change of behavior of people.”
In the Zona Sul (South Zone), the main attractions were Mulheres de Chico in Leme, Bafafá in Ipanema and Boka de Espuma in Botafogo. On Sunday in Jardim Botânico, the Grêmio Recreativo Bloco Carnavalesco Fofoqueiros de Plantão paraded until Gávea, bringing together nearly five hundred people in a family-friendly atmosphere.