Batman, pregnant queen win Rio Carnival parade

Wed Feb 17, 2010 4:02pm EST
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By Ana Nicolaci da Costa

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters)- Brazil's Carnival revelry drew to a close on Wednesday with the anxiously awaited award for the best parade in Rio de Janeiro going to a show featuring skiers dressed like Batman and a pregnant drum queen.

The Unidos da Tijuca samba group won the battle for Rio bragging rights for the first time in 74 years for their parade entitled "It's a Secret!" that also featured rapid-fire costume changes and a dancing impersonator of the late pop singer Michael Jackson.

Its drum section was led by a four-month pregnant television presenter, Adriane Galisteu.

The Viradouro group, which whipped up controversy by selecting a seven-year-old as its drum queen, finished last and was relegated to the second division. Rio's samba schools are organized into two separate divisions.

Each year 12 samba "schools" of samba parade elaborate sparkling costumes, props and extravagant floats. Judges' marks for the parades are painstakingly read out for over an hour on national television on Ash Wednesday.

The schools, which provide an annual coming-out for many of Rio's most impoverished slum areas, often have skit-like elements, making the overall experience a cross between Disney World and an Italian opera.

"It's a spectacle that has a lot of culture, a lot of history and a bit of theater. I get goose bumps, it's a very strong, very nice feeling," said Amanda Souza, 24, as she waited for a parade at Rio's Sambadrome stadium Sunday night.


<p>Revellers of the Vila Isabel samba school participate in the second night of the Carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro's Sambadrome, February 15, 2010. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes</p>