The rain this year might have caused some delays, but the more than 30 troupes that streamed down the Adult’s Parade route Saturday on St. Thomas kept the show going until well after 5 p.m., making it the longest event in years.
As residents started camping out around 10 a.m., when the parade was supposed to start, a light drizzle started falling over downtown. Residents were prepared with umbrellas and tents, and watched as the first two sets of the V.I, Police Department officers went up and down the road.
To give the crowd something to talk about, this year’s Adult’s Parade Grand Marshal Darrell Donovan, made his way up the road around 10:30 a.m., flanked by four members of the Infernos Carnival troupe, the organization that Donovan founded and which has grown into one of the biggest entries of the parade. .
“It’s an honor to be here, leading the parade,” Donovan said Saturday.” We have a great group, and it’s amazing to be honored for the work that we do. This year is no exception. We really wanted to do something special with Infernos this year with the anniversary of Carnival and the Centennial. You’re going to see Infernos coming up the road in “regal fete,” paying tribute to all of these celebrations and honoring what Carnival is all about, which is the celebration of our culture.”
The long white feathers and the headdresses of the Infernos were characteristic of many of the larger troops participating in the parade. Long-running names such as Real Mas, Hugga Bunch and others, stayed out until late Saturday night and, for another year, lit up the route with sequins, pink purple blue and black feathers and lively dance routines.
But also like every year, there were several unique entries. One of the first entries into the square Saturday was a three-man troop put together by the Randall family from Water Island.
Inspired by a trip to Venice, Italy, Alex Randall, dressed Saturday as Casanova, said the family drew inspiration from old Renaissance costumes and the fact that the country’s traditional masquerade was one of the world’s first carnivals.
“We are celebrating the first carnival in history, which happened in 1162 A.D. in the city of Venice. That’s 855 years ago,” Randall said. “So I’m dressed up as Casanova, my daughter Grace is dressed up as a medieval princess, and the third member of our troupe is the plague doctor, who is checking everybody to see if they have plague. We were in Venice and we saw the masks and when we asked where they all came from, we figured out that they were way ahead of us and that they’ve been doing this for hundreds of years.”
Sharing the culture of other countries was also the idea behind the Filipino Association’s three-sectioned troupe, which featured women in the front, men in the back, and a family float decorated with large cloth flowers. The troupe was met by applause from the second it came up the road, stopping first at the Market Square, where the first set of dancing began. The women sported flowered headdresses, the men held candles and the float in the back was topped by a gazebo. Organizers said the theme of the troupe was cultural unity, and represented the bonding together of the Filipino community with the Virgin Islands community.
Each year, the last entry on the parade route is always the Traditional Indians, but this year, the group splintered, giving the grassroots group Opi’a Taino International the chance to make a more authentic offering. Organizer Maekiaphan Phillips said that she spent the last two weeks suing the new costumes, which are more traditional than ever before.”
“This year we’re actually doing a tribute to all indigenous people,” Phillips said. “That includes the four waves of Indians that came to the Caribbean including the Arawaks and Tainos, and when you look at us you see that from the beginning, we all were a mixture. So, we are celebrating our native roots and the blending together of culture that is the Virgin Islands.”
The patriotic colors of the American flag, symbolizing the transfer of ownership of the Virgin Islands from Denmark to the United States 100 years ago, were also on display by the Eagles carnival troop, who came out Saturday preparing to defend their title. The Eagles were a big winner at last year’s Adult’s parade, and won the judges over with their intricate historical costumes, representing the beauty of all islands of the Caribbean with headdresses displaying each native bird.
This year, organizer Cain Magras said troupe’s theme was “Centennial Fireworks.”
“Fireworks are not just for the Centennial event,” Magras said. “They are also to celebrate the lives of the hundreds of people who made us famous over the last hundred years. We have politicians, we have some sports people, we have everybody represented.”
Asked if he expects the troop to win this year, Magras laughed and said it’s up to the judges.
“Like everyone else, I’m just out here to have fun,” he said.
The VI Filipino Association troupe lit up the gloomy weather with their beautiful, vibrant, and dare I say, modest costumes, but especially their radiant smiles. Nice addition to the parade.
I agree with “Well THAT happened.” The VI Filipino Association troupe was an excellent entry in this year’s Carnival parade. Not only were their costumes modest, but so were their dance routines.
The word culture is knocked around quite a lot especially at Carnival time, but the Filipino troupe displayed the type of culture that was exhibited in the early years of Carnival. Early photos of Carnival can attest to this.
Let us hope that the Filipino troupe can influence other troupes in the future to help us return to the type of culture that we grew up with.