By Beatriz Miranda, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – On Saturday, February 10th, seven samba schools from the Série A (Access Group) will be performing in the Sambódromo. This will be the second day of Rio Carnival parades, which officially starts on Friday, February 9th.

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Alegria da Zona Sul, the first to enter Sambódromo on February 10th, will pay homage to the bravery of former African slave Luiza Mahin, photo by Gabriel Monteiro/Riotur.

Happening from 10PM to 3:30 PM, the second day of event will bring to the Sapucai (another name for the Sambódromo) both veteran and beginner schools from Rio’s Zona Sul (South Zone), Zona Oeste (West Zone) and Baixada Fluminense.

Gathering a total of thirteen samba schools, Série A is the second most important group in Rio Carnival’s parade. Some of the most traditional schools also participate in Série A, like Unidos do Porto da Pedra and Estacio de Sa, Rio’s first samba school.

As usual, the two winner schools from Série A will participate in Grupo Especial on Carnival 2019. Grupo Especial, Rio’s Carnival most prestigious group, gathers renowned schools like Mangueira, Salgueiro, Portela and Beija-Flor.

Opening the second day of parade will be Alegria da Zona Sul, at 10PM. Founded in 1992 with the union of two Carnival blocos from Copacabana, “Alegria de Copacabana” e “Unidos do Cantagalo”, Alegria da Zona Sul promises to fascinate the audience with “Bravos Malês! A Saga de Luiza Mahin”. The theme pays tribute to the African heritage in Brazil and the resistance of former slave Luiza Mahin.

Directly from Rio’s Zona Oeste, Academicos de Santa Cruz will follow Alegria da Zona Sul, entering the Sambódromo at 10:45 PM. Born in 1959 from a local Carnival bloc, Academicos de Santa Cruz will participate in this contest with “No Voo Mágico da Esperança, Quem Acredita, Sempre Alcança”, with lyrics that talk about faith and creeds.

Part of Grupo Especial from 1991 to 2010, Viradouro is one of the favorites in Série A, starring at Sapucaí at 11:30 PM. Founded in 1964, the school from Niterói brings to Carnival 2018 “Vira a Cabeça, Pira o Coração! Loucos Gênios da Criação!”, a creative theme on the “crazy geniuses” from the humanity, like Leonardo da Vinci and Doctor Frankenstein.

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Winner at the Grupo Especial for several times in the 1960s and 1970s, Academicos do Cubango is the fifth school to perform on Saturday, February 10th, photo by Raphael David/Riotur.

At 12:15 AM, Academicos da Rocinha promises to amaze the audience with a homage to the 110th anniversary of the woodcut technique in Brazil. Founded in 1988 in Rocinha, the biggest favela in Brazil, Acadêmicos da Rocinha will also honor J. Borges this year, the most respected woodcut artist in the country.

“They practice in a huge hall at the bottom of Rocinha. I live right at the top and can hear them practicing. I know they are not one of the leading schools, but I always hope they do well and look out for them on TV,” says Jody King, English expatriate who has lived in Rio for 4.5 years.

Following, Academicos do Cubango enters the Sambodromo at 1AM. This year, its samba pays tribute to the geniosity of Arthur Bispo do Rosário, visual artist from Sergipe, Brazil’s Northeast. Original from Niterói, Academicos do Cubango is known for having won the contest at the Grupo Especial for several times in the 1960s and 1970s.

Representing the municipality of Belford Roxo, in Baixada Fluminense, Inocentes de Belford Roxo walks on the Sambodromo at 1:45 AM. Having already honored Carmen Miranda and the Pan American Games, the school will star on Carnival 2018 with the theme “Mojú, Magé, Majubá – Sinfonias e Batuques”, samba dedicated to the 452 years of Magé, the second oldest city in Rio’s State.

Closing Série A parade will be Unidos de Padre Miguel, at 2:30 PM. The school from Zone Oeste will present the samba “As Margens da Floresta Vi Brotar”, paying homage to the nature and the folklore from the Amazonas, State from Brazil’s North.

The winning schools from all leagues will be revealed on Ash Wednesday, after Carnival celebrations finish, and will determine each school’s league for the next year’s competition.

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