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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, February 13, 2013 11:53 am

Rio returns to real life after Carnival


The world's Carnival capital picked up the pieces on Wednesday, after five straight days of decadent costume balls, raucous street parties and heavy drinking.

Street cleaners were out in force in Rio de Janeiro to erase the last traces of nearly 700 street parties that have snarled traffic and littered the streets and sidewalks with mountains of trash. Rio's Comlurb waste management company said it collected some 300 tons of garbage from Rio's streets throughout the festivities.

Workers had to swap their pirate, sailor and kitty cat costumes for suits, ties and demure office separates as many of the shops, banks and offices that shuttered during Carnival reopened on Wednesday.

But revelers reluctant to abandon the celebrations so quickly can still seek refuge in a few last Carnival activities, including Wednesday's announcement of the winner of this year's samba school competition. Twelve top-tier schools wowed spectators with their thumping percussion sections, imaginative floats and sexy samba queens swathed in nothing more than a sprinkling of sequins and a puff of ostrich feathers at two all-night parades Sunday and Monday at Rio's iconic Sambadrome.

The Vila Isabel samba school was widely considered the favorite to win this year's title. The top six schools will take to the Sambadrome again on Saturday for the champions' parade.

The Carnival street parties, or "blocos," as they're known in Portuguese, also continue through the weekend, though the selection is vastly reduced. During Carnival more than 100 blocos rocked the city daily, while from Wednesday through Sunday there are but a handful.

Tragedy hit Carnival when four people died early Tuesday in the port city of Santos after a float caught fire, local officials said. And G1, the internet portal of Globo television network, reported seven people were injured Tuesday night after a man opened fire at a Carnival party in the Rio suburb of Sao Goncalo.

At the Sambadrome parades, paramedics treated nearly 2,000 people, most of them suffering from dehydration and other heat-related symptoms, the city's health secretariat said.