March 15, 2007 — St. Croix will be "wearing the green" Saturday as residents line the streets of Christiansted for the 38th annual St. Patrick's Day parade.
The parade begins at 11 a.m. at the Christiansted wharf and proceeds south on Company Street, turns right at Times Square and continues down King Street back to the wharf area.
Bells will ring 17 times from the Lord God of Sabbath Lutheran Church on King Street to herald the start of the parade. Father John McLoughlin of St. Patrick's Church in Frederiksted will be the parade's grand marshall.
According to parade organizer Darryl Gross, this year's theme, "Saving the Green," is a reminder to residents that more attention needs to be paid to the environment. He added that prizes will be awarded to the best and most creative floats and entries based on the theme.
Gross says the entries could focus on environmental conservation on either land or sea. He said worldwide and local attention is now focused on the erosion of coral reefs. Additionally, he said, the local fish and conch population is declining, causing bans on fishing and netting.
"We hope the entries would be able to make a statement about saving the environment and offer solutions that could minimize the problem," said Gross.
Gross also announced new parade guidelines that he said would make the parade safer for both viewers and participants:
— All vendors must have a parade permit and all participants and spectators are encouraged to only patronize those vendors. Parade organizers will provide signs to identify the vendors, who will also be listed in the newspaper and announced on the radio. Funds from the parade will be donated to environmentalist organizations on St. Croix.
— No glass bottles are to be on the floats during the parade, and the sale of beverages in glass containers is strongly discouraged. In keeping with this year's theme, organizers want to recycle as many of the aluminum cans as possible. Receptacles for cans only will be disbursed throughout the parade route.
–As a matter of public safety, any floats or groups that would like to distribute soda, water, beer, beads, etc., please have a "walker" to hand them to spectators, rather than throwing them.
— Nudity, lewd or threatening behavior is prohibited.
— If you intend to drink, please have a designated driver.
Entries will be judged in the following categories:
— Individual or couple costume. Best overall float
— Most unique on wheels (skateboard, bicycle, car, truck, rollerblades, horse and buggy, motorcycle, etc.)
— Most original idea related to theme: "Saving the Green"
— Best youth group. Best group costumes/apparel of five or more
— Best nonhuman entries (crustaceans, fish, dogs, cats, mammals, horses, insects, etc.)
— There will be an eighth category, which will be awarded to the individual/group that has the highest score: BEST of the BEST!
The floats will be judged on the following criteria:
— Originality/creativity related to the theme: "Saving the Green"
— Music related to the theme, Ireland and St. Croix
— Environmentalist creation related to theme
— Variety of costumes related to the theme
The St. Patrick's Parade began in 1969 when a group of local businessmen met at Harry's Office Bar on Queen Cross St. in Christiansted after work. The conversation got around to holidays and why St. Patrick's Day wasn't celebrated in the Virgin Islands, when so many other holidays were.
Since it was actually St. Patrick's Day, within minutes a flatbed truck was commandeered and a piano put on top. The small group got aboard and wound through the streets singing Irish songs and saluting shoppers and shopkeepers, who came out to see what all the noise was about. Those who were already wearing green got into the spirit at once, while others who needed something green ran into the shops to find it, running back outside to wave at the paraders. Some even joined the procession! And so, the first St. Patrick's Day Parade was born. To this day, it is going strong and is an important day for the community and tourists.
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