Carnival Committee announces 2014 theme, schedule


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ST. THOMAS - Carnival is around the corner, and the committee behind it is making sure the community knows it.

On Wednesday, the V.I. Carnival Committee announced that this year's theme would be "The Biggest Fete Ever Seen, Carnival 2014" during a press conference at Walker's By the Sea on St. Thomas.

The committee also announced this year's honorees:

- Percival "Percy" Taylor and David "Dee Dee Sharp" Dawson will be the Carnival Village honorees.

- Alfred "Chubby" Lockhart Jr. will be the Children's Parade marshal.

- Lubin "Butch" Roberts will be the Adults' Parade marshal.

- Charles and Joseph Leonard will be the Cultural and Food Fair honorees of "Charles and Joe's Flamboyant Garden."

Speakers at the press conference included Kenneth Blake, chairman of the committee, along with St. Thomas-St. John Police Chief Darren Foy and V.I. Department of Tourism representative Diana Brown.

Police presence

Foy addressed public safety concerns, noting the shooting that occurred last year during the J'ouvert festivities. Three people were shot, one of whom was left in critical condition, and the celebration, which occurs toward the end of the month-long Carnival celebration, was shut down shortly after it began.

"Last year, J'ouvert was what J'ouvert is not supposed to be," Foy said.

The police will be more organized this year, designated to patrol in areas that have been problems in the past, according to the chief. Additionally, the Police Department will be working with the V.I. Water and Power Authority to ensure that all areas surrounding the festivities will be properly lit.

Police also will be checking in with certain neighborhoods to learn of any disputes that could surface at the celebration, according to Foy.

"A lot of times, people use Carnival to get back at people and solve issues that have been festering," he said.

Funding woes

Committee officers also said Wednesday that the committee has no money yet to fund the month-long festivities.

"Not a dime," Blake said.

The committee's ideal budget is about $1.2 million, according to Blake.

The committee expects to receive a $440,000 in funding from the Virgin Islands government, according to Carnival Executive Director Caswil Callender, one of two salaried staff members on the Carnival Committee. More than 100 volunteers make up the bulk of the nonprofit committee.

Last year the committee received about $639,000 from the government, Callender said. Carnival itself brought in more than $950,800 in revenue last year, all of which was used to cover the more than $1 million in expenses, according to an expense report the Carnival Committee distributed at Wednesday's press conference.

Among their most expensive expenditures were entertainment, which cost more than $199,700; professional services, which cost more than $174,600; and travel, which cost more than $151,500.

The committee has had no expenditures as of yet this year, Blake said, because it is waiting on the government funds and for contributions.

"They're working on it," Callender said of the government.

However, according to Office of Budget and Management Director Debra Gottlieb, her office thus far has released $300,000 in revolving account funds, which are from the Department of Tourism's collection of the hotel occupancy tax funds throughout the territory. Additionally, the office has released $140,000 from the General Fund, though it may or may not release another $140,000 from the same fund, depending on the current flow of revenue to the territorial government, according to Gottlieb.

The committee already is looking at eliminating events, Callender said, though he would not specify what events were being considered.

Blake did mention, while addressing the committee and other members of the community, that the committee may shorten the fireworks show, which usually is 30 minutes in length.

"We're going to try to make sure it is not less than 15 minutes," Blake said.

A change of the Carnival schedule would not be a first, Callender said, though it would be disappointing to both the committee and the community.

"It's important to the community as a whole," he said.

- Contact Jenny Kane at 714-9102 or email jkane@dailynews.vi.

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