April 30, 2004 – V.I. Carnival spirit reached even higher than the temperature on Friday as thousands gathered in downtown Charlotte Amalie to watch the 2004 Children's Parade.
In marching bands, steelbands, majorette groups and dance troupes, on foot or on float, the young people of the Virgin Islands rocked Charlotte Amalie from one end of town to the other. (Check out lots of additional images posted on the St. Thomas Source Children's photo album page.)
Parade Marshal Migdalia Feliciano led the miles-long procession of troupes, floupes, floats, steelband trolleys and carnival royalty through town from Rothschild Francis "Market" Square all the way to Lionel Roberts Stadium, where each group gave its final performance before the assembled onlookers and the parade judges.
Feliciano has participated in Carnival since joining the Sebastien Majorettes at the age of 5. She is probably best known as the founder of the Charming Twirlers — who were, indeed, charming on Friday as they performed to the Village People classic "In the Navy" in their shiny red and silver outfits complete with sailor caps.
The parade, scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., got started on time and, according to Carnival 2004 Prince Hosea Ottley and Princess Nysha Lindo, took about two hours start to finish. Hosea, Nysha and the young members of their court rode in regal style atop a lime green float, waving and smiling to their legions of subjects gathered along Main Street.
Hundreds of other youngsters, lacking the perks of royalty, had to work a little harder to get their parade on. But for most, the fun of playing in a steelband, twirling a baton, dancing or just good old-fashioned marching seemed to make the effort well worth while.
Joseph Sibilly School banner-bearers Chandler Heath and Eshoj Petersen made nothing of their hours marching in the sun. Approaching the stadium, they were still proudly holding high their banner announcing the Sibilly Spring Queen and the school's Sunrays Steelband.
The baton-wielding Sebastien Majorettes were still going strong as they approached the end of the route. "Keep smiling! Keep smiling!" was the mantra shouted out by Charlotte Amalie High School senior Chere Harley, providing encouragement as the girls prepared to do their routine for the judges.
Double-decker steelpan trolleys were literally jumpin' up when the youngsters on board got into the rhythm of a song, and few hips failed to sway among those on the sidelines.
And, of course, the uniqueness of Virgin Islands culture and history were fêted with gusto in the young people's version of the season's "Journey through a Cultural Door for Carnival 2004."
Young Montessori School students carrying baskets of bright purple bougainvillea blossoms and dressed in the style of the olden days danced to quelbe music.
All Saints Cathedral School youngsters celebrated the sea on a float made to look like an underwater kingdom. Fellow classmates trailed behind in glitter-covered sneakers and hats fashioned with starfish and shells and yards of luminescent blue fabric suggestive of warm Caribbean waters.
Parents were out in force, too, helping the youngsters beat the heat. St. Thomas resident Jerry Prince was among those offering fresh oranges to overheated dancers, while others walked among the marching groups with spray bottles and sports drinks.
Of course, no Carnival event goes down without plenty of johnny cake, maubi, chicken and rice, and an exhaustive list of other island palate pleasers. While the vendors set up for the Children's Parade could not match the culinary wizardry evident in the Village and at Wednesday's Cultural Fair, there were plenty of taste treats to be had.
Thirty-nine groups participated in Friday's parade, representing St. Thomas, St. Croix, St. John and the British Virgin Islands, according to the V.I. Carnival Committee.
Saturday's Adult Parade, also set to kick off at 10 a.m., is scheduled to have 57 units taking part.
Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name, and the city and state/country or island where you reside.
Publisher's note : Like the St. Thomas Source now? Find out how you can love us twice as much — and show your support for the islands' free and independent news voice … click here.