July 4, 2005 While Monday's July 4th Celebration parade attracted people from all over, it was a day for St. John residents to come out to see folks they don't often encounter.
"Carnival to me is the parade when everybody comes out," St. John resident Jennifer Robinson said, marching through the streets of Cruz Bay with the Middle Age Majorettes.
Residents and visitors chatted as they waited for the parade to start.
"It's our first day here and it's the Fourth of July. What better place to be," Westin Resort and Villas visitor Judy LaRue of Dayton, Ohio, said as she waited for the parade to start.
Cara Tate of Washington, D.C., who was staying at Maho Bay Camps with her husband, Tom Carruthers, said the parade seemed very authentic.
"It seems to have a very local flavor. It's certainly not mass produced," she said.
Many visitors wondered when the parade would actually get underway. It began around noon — an hour after it was scheduled to take off from near the V.I. National Park visitors center.
Leona Smith, president of the St. John Cultural and Festival Organization, said that delays and gaps in the parade happened because the troops took so long to get organized. The parade had about 40 entries.
As often happens, Caneel Bay Resort made the biggest splash. This year, about 40 of its employees, children of employees and friends joined forces for the Fish 'n Paradise floupe, in which participants were dressed like fish, mermaids and other sea creatures.
Caneel Bay manager Rik Blyth said that the resort spent $22,000 for this year's floupe.
Standing on top a float dressed like King Neptune, he said the event was a chance for the employees to get together and have fun.
Smith said that the Westin Resort, which traditionally enters the parade, instead donated money for fireworks.
The national park also adopted a sea theme for its float. Park ranger Don Near, busy answering questions from tourists as he served as the roving ranger, said the park resurrected some Glenn Wilcox sea-themed murals, which hung in the old visitors center, to use on the float.
Near said the park visitors center was swamped Monday with people asking for information. He said the park recently put identification on the outside of the building, which he said appears to have increased the number of people stopping by.
Some St. Thomas residents made the trip across Pillsbury Sound to participate in St. John's event.
Camela Francis was with a handful of young ladies from the Girls on the Go program. She said it was a mentorship program for girls four to 17.
"We're a new organization, and we need some publicity," she said, explaining why they decided to participate.
And it certainly wouldn't be the July 4th Celebration without politicians, and this one was no exception.
Sen. Craig Barshinger, who hails from St. John, pointed out that the Love City spirit of St. John was out in full force.
Dr. Cora Christian, of St. Croix, told a reporter that she was running again for governor. And Sen. Lorraine Berry was busy chitchatting with fellow St. Thomas resident Antoinette Hendrickson.
"I came from the time my children were small. You see everybody," Hendrickson said, summing up one of the things that makes St. John's parade so popular.
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