July 5, 2004 – Thousands of people braved the threat of rain and packed the streets of Frederiksted where activities celebrating emancipation were brought to a colorful close.
Although the skies were ominous over much of Frederiksted, the rain abated to allow throngs of visitors and residents to witness the fireworks show. Enhancing the experience was music and food and fun – totally cultural and distinctly Crucian.
Unise Tranberg, owner of Pier 69 restaurant and a member of the Frederiksted Economic Development Association, one of the organizations hosting the four-day long Emancipation celebrations, was pleased with all the activities and especially the thousands of people who visited the town during the weekend.
Observing the cars parked on both sides of the street outside her King Street location and the crowd of people making its way toward the Frederiksted Fort, Tranberg exclaimed, "It looks like Christmas out there!" Saying it was a great weekend in the town, Tranberg added that it was a "shot in the arm to the economy of Frederiksted."
Many people camped out on the Frederiksted beach and around town in anticipation of the sparkle and flashes. Multicolored explosions lit up the night sky for half an hour.
Wayne Carty, president elect, and Marion Hazelwood, current president of Rotary West, said their organization was glad to be able to entertain the public on the last night of the festivities. "It brings families, neighbors and old friends together, it lets them see what it was like before," said Carty. Rotary West organized some of Sunday night's activities including a massive electric slide and "Cha Cha" slide dance, and provided space for food vendors. The Doc Petersen Quartet, Jamsie and the All Stars and DJ Jabbar provided music. Hovensa, FEDA, Rotary West, the St. Croix Country Club and other members of the community sponsored the fireworks.
The Rotary official also commented the emphasis of culture. "Frederiksted is rooted in the history of the Emancipation," said Carty. "So, it deserves the distinction of the "cultural capital,' of the Virgin Islands," remarked Carty. "Frederiksted is country, and country folk preserve their history," he added.
Maurice James and her husband Paul brought their children, Jordan, 13, Sydney, 14, and Camille, 16, to the fireworks display. James said it's important for her to expose her family to cultural activities. "Culture defines who you are and lets you know your place in the world. I make it a point to expose my children to their culture."
Sitting where she was able to observe all the activities, a 93-year-old Frederiksted native reminisced on her youth. "St. Croix is not how is used to be," she said. "I used to dance a lot of quadrille. Every Saturday night there was a dance at a different estate. I used to go all the time and dance all night!" She explained that she did not attend the donkey races earlier that day saying, "I used to go to donkey races a long time ago. I'm a donkey my self so I don't go to the races anymore." And when asked for her name, she replied, "I don't want my name in the newspaper, dont put my name in the newspaper!" Some people still need to keep their secrets.
Peggy Moorhead, co-chair of emancipation coordination committee, Yesterday Today and Tomorrow, encouraged families to come back to St. Croix and to Frederiksted for next years' events. She said the Emancipation Celebration activities would be bigger and better next year.
Publisher's note : Like the St. Croix Source now? Find out how you can love us twice as much — and show your support for the islands' free and independent news voice… click here.