Rio Carnival champion named; naked parade punished

RIO DE JANEIRO Wed Feb 6, 2008 3:57pm EST

1 of 3. Revellers of the Beija-Flor samba school dance atop a float on the second night of parades by the top samba groups in Rio de Janeiro's Sambadrome February 5, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Fernando Soutello

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RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Rio de Janeiro's Carnival jury named parade group Beija-Flor (Hummingbird) champion for the second year running on Wednesday, while another samba group was relegated to the second division after its dancing queen paraded naked.

The 4,200-strong Sao Clemente samba school, which kicked off two nights of parades on Sunday night, lost its place among the 12 top league groups as judges punished it by trimming precious points for "exposed genitalia."

Viviane Castro, 25, a model and dancer, had lost her original "tapasexo" -- a small triangle of glitter used to cover the most intimate parts. An improvised substitute glued between her legs right before the show also fell off on the parade strip.

She symbolized native Indians as they appeared to the Portuguese.

Although bare-breasted, almost naked beauty queens run galore in Rio's Carnival, full nudity is forbidden.

Beija-Flor won the champion's title with a parade dedicated to Brazil's Amazon state of Amapa and featured a giant float with hummingbirds native of the region.

Beija-Flor and 12 other top samba clubs competed in the 70,000-seat Sambadrome on Sunday and Monday nights in a globally televised pageant.

The schools were judged by their floats, costumes, dancing, overall enthusiasm, song lyrics and other criteria.

Ash Wednesday is a partial holiday in Brazil and most Rio residents stayed away from work completely to watch the televised awards ceremony for the best samba school.

The city is still teeming with hundreds of thousands of tourists who came to watch the parades and take part in raucous street processions.

Although Carnival officially ends on Ash Wednesday and is followed by a period of Lent and penitence in the world's biggest Roman Catholic country, some street processions of irreverent merry-makers will continue playing loud samba tunes, dancing and drinking for a few days.

On Saturday night, six top-rated samba schools will hit the Sambadrome venue again for the all-night Champions' Parade.

(Reporting by Andrei Khalip; Editing by Bill Trott)

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