After five hours of stiff competition, 18 year-old Derisa Greaves left the stage early Sunday morning with awards in two major categories and the 2015 Carnival Queen crown.
Out of six-contestant field, Charlotte Amalie High School’s Cequoyah George was selected by the judges as first runner up and 17 year-old Kandysee’ Leonard came in second runner up. The rest of the Carnival Queen court is: 17 year-old Moniqua Thomas, 18 year-old Abyissinia Hodge and 18 year-old Jahkeema Petersen.
The Queen Show seems to have lagged in participation and support over the past few years, but it got a second wind Saturday night, as the six young women on stage were greeted by a stadium full of spectators. The area in front of the stage set up at Lionel Roberts Stadium on St. Thomas filled up first with supporters, but by 10 p.m., even the normally bare stands were crowded, leaving standing room only at the edges of the field.
Each contestant had her own support group, characterized each year by unique T-shirts cut out and fashioned into a range of different outfits. By the end of the night, it was impossible to determine the crowd’s favorite, as the applause rang loud and clear for each young woman on stage.
Along with picking up the crown, Greaves won the awards for Best Evening Wear, for an island-inspired turquoise gown with a removable train, and Best Intellect, for her answer in the final question-and-answer round. This year’s question asked contestants to think about what cultural aspects they would spotlight to a first time visitor to the territory. Greaves focused on two pieces of background information: that the Virgin Islands is the only U.S. territory to drive on the left-hand side of the road, and the only one to have been owned by the Danish.
The cultural costume segment is also an important Queen Show category, and first runner up George picked up the award this year. George, an Ivanna Eudora Kean High School senior, dressed as the spirit of Louis Magens Rohdes, daughter of the wealthy Danish family that owned the 56 acres of land encompassing Drake’s Seat, Magens Beach and the Louisenhoj castle that was eventually sold to philanthropist Arthur Fairchild. George’s skirt had a model of Fairchild seated on Drake’s Seat next to a model of former V.I. Gov. William Hastie, who was the one responsible for getting Fairchild to donate the land to the people of the territory.
George also picked up the award for Best Talent for a Cirque de Soleil routine that had her cartwheeling, back flipping and tumbling on stage as she portrayed the damage caused by 1995’s Hurricane Marilyn. George ended the routine with a performance on an aerial hoop that took her about six feet above the stage.
Hodge won this year’s Miss Congeniality title. She showed off her Chickenhawk pride during the talent segment with a routine entitled “Everything Charlotte Amalie.” For more than the past 10 years, CAHS contestants have brought home the Carnival Queen crown and Hodge paid homage to the school’s great traditions with a blue and gold costume affixed with models of the mascot and buildings on campus, along with images of St. Thomas’ capital city.
Petersen picked up the award for Most Cooperative, and won the crowd over in the talent segment, where she played a range of different instruments, from the snare drum to the alto sax. During question-and-answer, Petersen also kept the focus on Carnival, saying that as a cultural ambassador speaking to a first-time visitor, she would make sure to talk about the territory’s sun, sand and rich Carnival tradition, which “everyone enjoys.”
Thomas, who was selected this year’s Miss Photogenic. Five out of the six contestants this year had a musical talent, and Thomas chose to sing, performing for the crowd in a mock V.I. Idol showcase where she pretended to be three different contestants, hailing from St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix. Thomas also picked up the award for Best Swimwear.