RIO DE JANEIRO – The Portela samba school was declared the winner of the Rio de Janeiro Carnival parade competition on Wednesday after going 33 years without securing the title.
The samba school has won the Rio de Janeiro Carnival title more than any other school and is one of the most traditional samba schools in the South American country.
Portela, founded 94 years ago in Rio’s Oswaldo Cruz neighborhood, obtained 269.9 points out of a possible 270 from the panel of judges at the 2017 samba parade celebration at the Sambodrome, considered to be the world’s biggest open-air show and the event that draws the biggest crowds each year in Rio.
The school, known as “The Monarch of Samba,” paraded early Tuesday morning not having won at the Rio Carnival since 1984, but it secured its 22nd title this time around with a parade hailing the stories and myths surrounding the world’s rivers.
The samba school was led to victory by artistic director Paulo Barros, who was in charge of staging Portela’s spectacular and colorful show. He had already won three titles with another samba school: Unidos da Tijuca.
The school’s parade reportedly featured 3,400 dancers divided into 31 groups, each with a fabulously ornate and colorful characteristic costume theme, and a percussion orchestra comprised of more than 100 musicians.
Portela beat out the Mocidade samba school by just 0.1 points in the competition, according to the judges’ rankings.
Last year, it was Mangueira, Brazil’s most popular samba school, that had walked away with the championship.
This year’s samba school parade event at the Sambodrome was plagued with accidents that injured at least 32 people on two separate nights when first one of the samba schools’ floats ran over about 20 people, injuring several of them severely, and then, the next night, when a walkway on top of another float collapsed, injuring another dozen people.