By Vânia Maciel, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Last Saturday the Sambódromo saw the last of Samba school parades for this year with the six top schools of the year parading down the Sapucaí once more. The parade was the official end for Carnival 20011 and Imperatriz Leopoldinense, Salgueiro, Vila Isabel, Mangueira, Unidos da Tijuca and Beija-Flor paraded respectively as per order of ranking.

Beija-flor float catchs fire.
Beija-flor float catches fire, image recreation.

Beija-Flor, first place winner, had several incidents taint this parade. Roberto Carlos the beloved Brazilian singer and song-writer, also known as The King, again graced his “subjects” with his presence, and caused a stir during and after the parade.

Many fans, wanting to take advantage of the opportunity to see The King and grab an autograph obstructed his passage wherever he went causing delays to the school’s parade. In the end it took fifty security guards to contain the mob of fans and journalists around the singer.

Another mishap was a fire which started in the first car, although it was quickly put out, it caused even more delays. Beija-Flor’s parade ran over time more than eleven minutes in total, which is against LIESA‘s (Independent Samba School League) rules. This could require the school pay penalties fees of a minimum of R$45,000 on a normal parade day. If the League is going to charge the same amount for a Champion parade day it was still unclear at the time of writing.

In-any-event, it seems that the controversy surrounding the vote counting was continued by part of the audience as Beija-Flor was booed by many at the start of their procession. The stalls were divided, especially in sector one where onlookers carried banners in support to Unidos da Tijuca shouted, “Tijuca is the real champion!”

Unidos da Tijuca, Carnival 2011
Unidos da Tijuca parades in Carnival 2011, photo by Ednei West/Flickr Creative Commons License.

The thought was reflected in the overall presentation last Saturday, Unidos da Tijuca was the most cheered Samba school parade of the night, and that proved the overall public preference. Cheers of “it is the champion” and applause echoed along the Sambódromo as the school passed.

Paulo Barros Tijuca’s parade designer declared “Tonight is the parade for us to enjoy and to show that Unidos da Tijuca had a great show on Carnival day.”

Mangueira came paraded again and gave a lesson in bateria (drum ensemble) play and cohesion, sending the audience to Samba music heights with contagious joy. Many of its bateria’s components still strongly disagree with the scores some of the jurors gave to their performance during Carnival.

The Unidos de Vila Isabel came to the champions parade without supermodel Gisele Bündchen on one of its floats this time. Instead the school’s Carnival designer, Rosa Magalhães, replaced the model. Thankful for the tribute the designer said, “I’m a twentieth century woman and do not feel as good replacement for the supermodel, but I’m very happy to be chosen.”

Salgueiro reduced the size of it’s troublesome floats which had cost the school precious points during Carnival and paraded smoothly this time.

And the sixth in contest, Imperatriz Leopoldinense paraded without its main singer who had a heart attack and is now unfortunately in the Coronarian ICU of Hospital do Coração Samcordis (Heart Hospital Samcordis).

Carnival might be over for most of us, but for designers and Samba schools will have just this month for a holiday, and then 2012 preparations start again.


  1. I can’t remember the last time there was such controversy surrounding the carnival voting. It’s a real shame as it casts a shadow over what should be a really joyous time for everyone in Rio. I hope the 2012 carnival voting causes fewer problems…


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