The Crucian Christmas Festival’s Children’s Parade is always miles of cute, come rain or come shine – and this year they had both.
The parade featuring tiny baton twirlers and petite princesses, marching bands and mocko jumbies and all the rest, stepped off shortly after 10 a.m. Friday under sunny skies with temperatures in the 80s. About halfway through the rains came, sending marchers and audience alike scurrying for the cover of storefronts, porches, bushes and overhanging eaves – anything to protect the colorful costumes.
But before too long the skies cleared enough for the parade to continue, and with the added advantage of bringing the heat down.
For visitors arriving on the cruise ship Summit that docked for the day at Frederiksted’s pier, the parade was a happy, unexpected bonus.
"I had no idea," said Mary Garey, a retired teacher from New Brunswick, Canada. "I’m delighted to see it. I love the local flair."
Pierre and Marguerite Charazac, of Lyon, France, weren’t on the cruise ship. They’re staying at a local hotel. But they also didn’t know about the parade until told about it by their front desk, and didn’t want to miss it.
They particularly enjoyed the mocko jumbies and the steel pan band, they said.
The Rising Stars Steel Pan Orchestra was on hand as always, pounding out rhythms, along with contingents from several elementary schools. Both public high schools – St. Croix Educational Complex and Central High School – were represented by their marching bands, who strutted and swayed down King Street to the delight of the crowd.
"This is the final stretch!" shouted sax player Gerhard Stevn, 18, a member of the Complex’ Marching Barracudas, as the band turned down King Street for the final half mile of the route. "Put everything into this one, all our hearts!"
And while many local public schools and groups dressed up in group presentations featuring flora and fauna from the Caribbean to Oz, there was at least one individual on the route representing – herself.
Miracle Lyles, a 10-year-old from Freewill Baptist School, told her mother, Georgina Lyles, she wanted to be in the parade. But mom feels strongly that "children should be allowed to be children as long as they can," and didn’t want her involved in some of the activities other groups did that she felt were a little too mature for the age group. So she helped her daughter organize her own float, which she entered as an individual.
Miracle rolled down the parade route in the back of a pickup, dressed as one of her favorite characters – Ariel the Little Mermaid.
The delay brought on by the rain stretched out the time of the parade. It started at the Claude O. Markoe Elementary School, about on time, at 10 a.m., and it wasn’t until shortly after 3 p.m. that the last entries were making it past the official reviewing stand down by Fort Frederik.