By Jack Arnhold, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – This Ash Wednesday, March 6th, Estácio de Sá samba school was announced the winners of Rio’s Série A (Access Group) Carnival 2019 parades, beating twelve other contenders, including strong competition from Acadêmicos do Cubango, among others.
Hailing from Estácio in Rio’s city center, the school wowed the judges with their ‘samba enredo’ (thematic samba composition) depicting the story of the statue ‘Cristo negro do Panamá’ (Black Christ of Panama).
Estácio de Sá scored 270 in total, beating the nearest contenders Acadêmicos do Cubango, who scored 269,5 and Unidos do Porto da Pedra, who scored 268,2. They managed to achieve a perfect 30 in each category, which was also achieved by Mangueira in the Grupo Especial. This will be the fourth time the school have won promotion to Grupo Especial in the Sambódromo (Sambadrome) era of Carnival.
Founded in 1928, Estácio de Sá are famous for being one of the more traditional samba schools of Rio, and they are commonly associated with their Carnavalesco Chico Spinoza, who created their Championship-winning parade, ‘Paulicéia Desvairada – 70 anos de Modernismo’ (Paulicéia Desvairada – 70 years of Modernism) in 1992.
While not known as being a major samba school, they achieved considerable success in the nineties, competing in the Grupo Especial for eight consecutive years. The twenty-first century has seen them fielding strong parades in Série A (Access Group) as well as yoyoing up and down from the Grupo Especial two times, in 2007 and 2016.
Serginho do Porto, the singer of Estácio de Sá’s samba song, comments on their victory via twitter, “We know that it is very difficult to work in the Access Group, a group with no money, but Estácio has grit. We have to thank the whole community, all the collaborators who helped us with this carnival. 2020 is right around the corner!”
While Estácio de Sá will be celebrating all the way to Carnival 2020, Alegria da Zona Sul are left to commiserate their demotion to Grupo B after finishing last in the group. This ends a seven-year run in Grupo A for the relatively young samba school, founded in 1992 by the favela communities of Cantagalo, Pavão and Pavãozinho in Copacabana.