Carnival spirit on display during Adults' Parade


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ST. CROIX - The Crucian Christmas Carnival wrapped up Saturday with an explosive display of fun, color and culture, and thousands of people embracing it all on the streets of Frederiksted.

Under the warm afternoon sky, residents and visitors alike lined the streets to see what St. Croix's top troupes would bring to the Carnival this year and from early in the day, high energy could be felt in the crowd.

The parade started an hour and a half behind its 10 a.m. scheduled start, but people, many of whom had staked out prime viewing spots as early as 8 a.m., waited patiently.

Grand marshal Elizabeth Lynch's granddaughter Daja Brooks filled in for Lynch as she was busy preparing and serving food. Lynch is a cook who has mastered most of the traditional Crucian dishes that have become staple of Christmas celebrations. The Carnival Village, "Betty's Kitchen," was named in Lynch's honor this year and featured booths that served everything from chicken and johnny cakes, to conch water, kallaloo, pastelles and lots of cold drinks.

A long procession of royalty followed Brooks. The queens, princesses and duchess sat atop their individual shiny convertibles or in sporty truck beds and waived to the supportive crowd who cheered from the sidelines as they made their way down Emancipation Drive, on to King Street and on to the viewing stands where media, dignitaries and parade judges awaited.

Miss St. Croix Astia LeBron was the first queen in line and said she had been really enjoying the Carnival season and her reign that began Dec. 22. LeBron said the title is not about her, but about helping to develop the community and finding new ways to develop pageantry and enhance the lives of young women.

St. Thomas Carnival queen, Miss BVI, Miss St. John, festival princess and duchess as well as a number of representatives from local organizations and schools filled out the royal court. The ladies were decked out in evening wear and cultural outfits as they smiled and waved at the crowd.

Samantha Duval, who is from St. Croix, but now lives on St. Thomas, traveled back for the Carnival with her 1-year-old daughter Amalie. She said she has missed a few celebrations over the years, but it was really exciting this year to share the memories with her daughter for her first Carnival and with some of her siblings who were visiting from the states.

"I love the excitement of the parade," she said. "The music gets you in the mood to dance and the colors and energy from those in the parade take you through the day."

St. Croix Majorettes moved away from their traditional blue and gold this year and made a statement as they hit the street twirling their batons wearing royal blue outfits, accented with red through the bodice and lime green sleeves. They, along with Sparkle Lite Twirlers, who were celebrating their 10th anniversary, wowed the crowd, with tight routines and well-choreographed dance numbers.

The big bands and troupes came one after the other down the route.

Shomari Haynes, leader of Simply Sophisticated troupe, danced and waved his flag like the road belonged to him as he brought his troupe out for the sixth consecutive year. The Garden of Eden theme came alive as the troupe members wore beautifully designed costumes adorned with feathers, flowers, beads and yards and yards of shiny material in bright greens, pink, yellow, orange and red. Soca Queen Rudy danced her way down the route with Simply Sophisticated, singing along with members of the Fusion Band.

Stylee Band led the University of the Virgin Islands' troupe down the road and the participants exhibited their youthful energy, allowing the music to seemingly possess them as they followed the commands of the songs, putting their hands up and tramping to the beat.

Troupe after troupe featured bright costumes with mounds of beads and feathers as members gyrated down King Street to the beat.

There was an endless display of feathery costumes and head dresses in sections of purple, white, green, blue, orange, gold, white and black - all with gold or silver accents.

Gentlemen of Jones Social Club went "Back in Time" with their presentation that took them to the days of pharaohs and Egyptian queens. A giant gold and white pyramid set the theme for the day as the troupe frolicked down the two-mile route.

This year's lineup also included the West End Masqueraders, Indians, Expressions Carnival Troupe, Lockhart and Associates, Island Enchantment, Flaming Gypsies, Prestige Troupe, Diageo Carnival Troupe and the Guardian of Culture Moko Jumbies.

Carnival President Davidson Charlamagne said the weeks-long event that kicked off early in December had been full of excitement and great support from the community from start to finish. He said J'ouvert on Wednesday saw record numbers of revelers on the streets that he estimated to be more than 15,000 people. He said the village had great entertainment and a great crowd every night and the parades were both beautiful and well attended.

He said despite some resistance from a few people about changing the name of the celebration from festival to Carnival this year, the community support and attendance was outstanding.

Going forward, Charlamagne said the committee will continue to focus on increased marketing for the event and selling the unique St. Croix culture to the world.

- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email fstokes@dailynews.vi.

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