Festive costumes, sparkling crowns and bright smiles lit up Post Office Square Friday as hundreds of youngsters made their way through downtown Charlotte Amalie in this year’s Children’s Parade.
Though there were only about 30 entries this year, the parade was well-stocked with a good mix of troupes, majorettes, steel pans and marching bands, giving all the spectators lining the route a heavy dose of the Carnival spirit. Government officials and families alike jumped, waved and danced along with music pounding from dozens of speakers, a battle of the bands competing for this year’s Road March title.
The favorite appeared to be Spectrum Band’s "Kallaloo," which accompanied many of the troupes as they made their way from Market Square to Lionel Roberts Stadium. Bouncing along to the lively music, each group showed the audience what this year’s theme, "Bacchanal Again for 2010," meant to them.
For the V.I. Montessori School and International Academy, the word "bacchanal" had a double meaning.
"We’re doing two takes on Carnival this year," said Lisa Aqui, who headed the school’s troupe. "One is an interpretative take one the term meaning chaos, and we’re focusing here on the chaos in Haiti."
To give the illusion of an earthquake, the students swirled pieces of dark red cloth up in the air and down on the ground. The other take, Aqui said, was a literal interpretation of the word "bacchanal," which she said would play out with "safe, child-appropriate" fun.
"Bacchanal is based on the happiness and fun of Carnival itself," Aqui said.
Many schools on island participated in this year’s parade, with students hailing from Charlotte Amalie High School, Ivanna Eudora Kean High School, Antilles School, All Saints Cathedral School, Bertha C. Boschulte Middle School, Joseph Sibilly Elementary and Ulla F. Muller Elementary.
Youngsters in the University of the Virgin Islands 4-H Program also hit the pavement again this year, dressed as red and gold steel pans as a tribute to the Rising Stars Youth Steel Orchestra.
Following closely behind, the Sun Children — a troupe representing Elskoe and Associates — showed off another set of unique costumes, with students sporting black body suits topped with fire headdresses. Their slogan was "Out of the Pan and Into the Fire," a local idiom that organizers said shows what happens when someone goes looking for trouble.
Celebrating their fifth anniversary this year, the St. Thomas Majorettes pulled out all the stops as they hauled a trampoline into the middle of the square. The crowd screamed and yelled as one girl bounced up and down inside, while the rest of the majorettes danced around her.
The traditional sights and sounds were also part of the Carnival parade, with the St. Thomas Tropical Masqueraders taking their usual spot among the troupes.
"We start planning for the parade in January, and from then, we just keep going and going," said the group’s leader Karl Callwood. The Masqueraders have about 25 participants in each parade this year, Callwood said.
Showing "one love," some of the more traditional entries in the parade also came from St. John and St. Croix. The Love City Leapers jump-roped their way down the route, followed by the Love City Pan Dragons steel orchestra, while the Crucian Clowns paired their multi-colored outfits with rainbow and cloud props.
The Traditional Indians rounded out the four hour parade, followed by the flashing blue lights of the Police Department, whose motorcycle-riding officers signaled the end of a fun and safe event.