February 25, 2009 / 9:39 PM / 10 years ago

And the Rio Carnival winner is ... Drum!

A reveller of Viradouro samba school dances atop a float during the second night of the Carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro's Sambadrome, early February 24, 2009. REUTERS/Fernando Soutello

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - One of Rio de Janeiro’s most traditional Samba schools broke a 16-year barren streak by winning the annual parade championship on Wednesday as the city cleaned up after four days of non-stop Carnival revelry.

Salgueiro wowed a crowd in the purpose-built Sambadrome on Monday night with a parade entitled “Drum!”, telling the history of the instrument through acrobats and dancers dressed as African tribesmen as well as the usual scantily clad drum queen.

“Salgueiro needed this victory, the community needed it,” Salgueiro President Regina Duran told journalists after the result, which dashed reigning champion Beija-Flor’s hopes of winning three titles in a row. Beija-Flor came second.

Rio traditionally comes to a halt on the Wednesday after the Carnival for live-television coverage of the results, which are painstakingly read out category-by-category and school-by-school at the Sambadrome. The schools, rather than teaching Samba, are community groups geared toward putting on huge Carnival parades.

The top 12 schools, which mostly represent poor communities, are judged on 10 categories ranging from their parade’s theme, drumming performance, harmony, costumes and synchronization.

The schools command fierce loyalty from their communities comparable to that of local soccer teams.

Reporting by Rodrigo Viga Gaier and Pedro Fonseca; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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