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St. John Festival Parade Brings Out Big Crowd

Hot, hot, hot describes both the weather and Thursday’s St. John Festival Parade as residents and visitors took to Cruz Bay’s streets to join in the fun.

“I’m enjoying the parade. I’m just sitting down and being relaxed,” said St. John resident Emma Penn, who was enjoying the passing scene while sitting near the Creek.

Visitors came from across the country to see what Festival was all about. Chris Suffa of Virginia Beach, Va., said he was excited to see his first Caribbean carnival.

“And I’m enjoying the sights,” he said, noting that the people watching was excellent from his spot near Cruz Bay Park.

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St. Thomas resident Ronnie Lockhart, who set up base across from the V.I. National Park ballfield, had the same idea. Visiting with his family from Florida, Lockhart said waiting for the parade to start was more fun that the actual parade because the people watching was “fantastic.”

Lockhart was one of many people wearing shirts with an American flag motif.

“I wear this for every fourth of July,” said Ken Bowers of Greenville, S.C., adding that he got the American flag shirt at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

The parade got off at 11:45 a.m., only 45 minutes later than scheduled. The 39 entries included the traditional royalty, majorettes, troupes and floupes, steel pan bands and much more.

Guy Benjamin School in Coral Bay was among the youth groups participating. The students’ signs were designed to spread the message about protecting and preserving coral reefs.

“And about how beautiful our island is,” Principal Brenda Dalmida said.

Caneel Bay Resort also had a marine theme with its floats and troupes celebrating the island’s fishermen.

The Westin Resort and Villas was on hand with a float that carried miniature buildings laid out like those at the resort. A revolving panel indicated day and night, and the troupe members wore blue to depict day and black for night.

Many groups came from St. Thomas for the parade. One group represented the United Confederation of Taino People, and the Gypsies and Masqueraders also danced down the parade route.

Politicians making their way up and down the street to shake hands with paradegoers weren’t as plentiful as in an election year, but Lt. Gov. Gregory Francis and his wife Cheryl were quick to greet many people.

“I look forward to celebrating with St. Johnians,” the lieutenant governor said.

The V.I. Waste Management Authority staff was busy passing out plastic bags so people could corral their garbage.

“Leave the bags on the side of the road,” advised Tessa Lewis, a VIWMA enforcement officer over from St. Croix for the day.

St. John Rescue was on hand with vehicles positioned on Veste Gade and at the Emergency Medical Service base, both in Cruz Bay. Training officer Bob Malacarne said the group also had its boat ready if needed.

“And we have cold towels, cold water,” he said, giving a long list of items on hand.

Leona Smith, who serves as the chairman of the St. John Festival and Cultural Organization as well as the island’s administrator, said before the parade started that there was no crime problems related to the Festival in the week leading up to the parade.

As Smith indicated last week, J’ouvert had only Pan in Motion steel pan group from St. Thomas playing in the wee hours of the morning. She said that one band came forward at the last minute in hopes of playing for J’ouvert but it was too late because the Police Department said earlier that no one could sign up at the last minute. Smith said the issue was that the bands wanted to get paid but the Festival Committee agreed that they should donate their time.

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Hot, hot, hot describes both the weather and Thursday’s St. John Festival Parade as residents and visitors took to Cruz Bay’s streets to join in the fun.

“I’m enjoying the parade. I’m just sitting down and being relaxed,” said St. John resident Emma Penn, who was enjoying the passing scene while sitting near the Creek.

Visitors came from across the country to see what Festival was all about. Chris Suffa of Virginia Beach, Va., said he was excited to see his first Caribbean carnival.

“And I’m enjoying the sights,” he said, noting that the people watching was excellent from his spot near Cruz Bay Park.

St. Thomas resident Ronnie Lockhart, who set up base across from the V.I. National Park ballfield, had the same idea. Visiting with his family from Florida, Lockhart said waiting for the parade to start was more fun that the actual parade because the people watching was “fantastic.”

Lockhart was one of many people wearing shirts with an American flag motif.

“I wear this for every fourth of July,” said Ken Bowers of Greenville, S.C., adding that he got the American flag shirt at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

The parade got off at 11:45 a.m., only 45 minutes later than scheduled. The 39 entries included the traditional royalty, majorettes, troupes and floupes, steel pan bands and much more.

Guy Benjamin School in Coral Bay was among the youth groups participating. The students’ signs were designed to spread the message about protecting and preserving coral reefs.

“And about how beautiful our island is,” Principal Brenda Dalmida said.

Caneel Bay Resort also had a marine theme with its floats and troupes celebrating the island’s fishermen.

The Westin Resort and Villas was on hand with a float that carried miniature buildings laid out like those at the resort. A revolving panel indicated day and night, and the troupe members wore blue to depict day and black for night.

Many groups came from St. Thomas for the parade. One group represented the United Confederation of Taino People, and the Gypsies and Masqueraders also danced down the parade route.

Politicians making their way up and down the street to shake hands with paradegoers weren’t as plentiful as in an election year, but Lt. Gov. Gregory Francis and his wife Cheryl were quick to greet many people.

“I look forward to celebrating with St. Johnians,” the lieutenant governor said.

The V.I. Waste Management Authority staff was busy passing out plastic bags so people could corral their garbage.

“Leave the bags on the side of the road,” advised Tessa Lewis, a VIWMA enforcement officer over from St. Croix for the day.

St. John Rescue was on hand with vehicles positioned on Veste Gade and at the Emergency Medical Service base, both in Cruz Bay. Training officer Bob Malacarne said the group also had its boat ready if needed.

“And we have cold towels, cold water,” he said, giving a long list of items on hand.

Leona Smith, who serves as the chairman of the St. John Festival and Cultural Organization as well as the island’s administrator, said before the parade started that there was no crime problems related to the Festival in the week leading up to the parade.

As Smith indicated last week, J’ouvert had only Pan in Motion steel pan group from St. Thomas playing in the wee hours of the morning. She said that one band came forward at the last minute in hopes of playing for J’ouvert but it was too late because the Police Department said earlier that no one could sign up at the last minute. Smith said the issue was that the bands wanted to get paid but the Festival Committee agreed that they should donate their time.