May 1, 2003 – The world might be a more peaceful place — although certainly not a quieter one — if the conflicts between nations could be resolved as one was that occurred between competing partisans at J'Ouvert on St. Thomas Thursday morning…
The Virgin Islands — in this case represented by Jam Band — pulls up on a mobile sound stage alongside another occupied by St. Kitts and Nevis — in this case, Sugar Band.
The two bands start playing different tunes. The tune that manages to hold the melody against the musical clash entitles the winners to move their tractor-trailer and all of their fans past their less-powerful adversary and on down the road.
At times, the sea of people who danced their way in front of, alongside and behind the popular dance bands taking part in this year's V.I. Carnival J'Ouvert tramp rivaled the wide Caribbean lapping the bulkhead of the Charlotte Amalie waterfront. At its widest, the crowd following Jam Band stretched from the door of Asfour Department Store near Scotiabank across four lanes of what would normally be traffic to the water's edge.
Imagination Brass, P'Your Passion, Jam Band and Sugar Band rolled slowly down Veterans Drive from 5:30 a.m., each drawing its fans in tow. At one point, Jam Band leader Nick "Daddy" Friday struck a humorous note, launching into his calypso tune "If You for Me," about his unsuccessful run for the Senate last year.
"If you for me, put up your hand," he sang, at once continuing: "Then why the hell you did not vote for me in the election?"
Most of the crowd exhibited a similar good nature. Tasha Fredericks, dressed in leggings with a cutout design and a cropped top, leaned against a set of benches, saying she had been dancing since midnight, first in the Village, then with J'Ouvert. "I could go some more," she said as she took the break from the crowd jumping up to the sounds of Sugar Band.
Jelani Hall, rolling wheeled suitcases along the waterfront apron by the V.I. Fast Ferry with his mother and twin sons, watched the passing crowd of revelers, wishing he could let loose of his luggage and join in. "I wish I was here earlier," he said. "That's a nice thing right there."
O'Bryan Toussaint, known as "O.B." to his friends, said that, for him, J'Ouvert is special because "it only comes once a year." He noted that even "people who usually don't dance come out for J'Ouvert."
Many of those who didn't dance as Thursday dawned took pictures of those who did. Others showed their V.I. pride by waving territorial and American flags. Many revelers stopped to catch their breath at one of the many snack stands and makeshift cocktail bars set up along the route between Addelita Cancryn Junior High School and "Gerry's Place," this year's V.I. Carnival Village. And a few folks flung themselves into the St. Thomas harbor waters for a cooling swim.
Despite the massive crowd size, police said afterward that the event was incident free.
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