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Rio returns to real life after Carnival

Wednesday - 2/13/2013, 5:15pm  ET

Unidos de Vila Isabel samba school President Wilson Alves, center left, holds his team's trophy after the samba school was announced the best samba school that paraded during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013. Rio de Janeiro's samba schools vied for the title of the year's best in an over-the-top, all-night-long Carnival parade at the city's iconic Sambadrome. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

Associated Press

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) -- The world's Carnival capital picked up the pieces on Wednesday, after five straight days of decadent samba school parades, 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. Members of samba schools that paraded in the Sambadrome on Sunday and Monday nights congregated in their headquarters to await the results of this year's competition, which saw 12 top-tier schools face off for the annual Carnival title.

Members of the Vila Isabel literally jumped with joy when judges called out the school's name. The school had been tapped as a top contender for the prize, with its over-the top agricultural-themed parade featuring a sexy spider samba queen, lady bug musicians and a giant grasshopper float.

Vila Isabel and the five runners up 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.

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