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Grey Skies Only Inspire Carnival Revelers to Party Harder

April 27, 2008 — As the first heavy raindrops started to fall on Main Street Saturday afternoon, the Bouncers Band — accompanying the Infernos Troupe this year with live music — helped keep the 2008 Adults Parade in high gear with their version of "Rain Can't Stop the Carnival."
With renewed enthusiasm, the troupe — along with hundreds of revelers gathered on the sidelines to watch — danced harder than before, stomping through puddles and waving their hands in the air along with the music. The gray skies did nothing to dim the vivid colors, bright spirit and perfectly coordinated routines of the troupes all day, and the parade wrapped up around 8 p.m. after the Traditional Indians made their way into Post Office Square.
The crowd — packed all the way past the Department of Labor — stayed put until the very end, using the time to dance, chat with old friends or bask in the wide array of bands, floats, majorette squads, steel pan orchestras and unique costumes that defined the day. This year's theme — "A Cultural Escape for Carnival 2008" — was woven into every entry, as participants displayed not only the most prominent aspects of V.I. culture, but Middle Eastern, Asian and African cultures as well.
Making its debut this year was the Filipinos Carnival Troupe, whose members made their way down Main Street wearing Polynesian inspired costumes, topped off with traditional umbrellas. Some members even had red, orange and green madras patterns incorporated into their outfits.
"This is the third Carnival I've attended, but it’s the first time I've been in the parade," said Joann Garcia, a member of the troupe. "It's been really fun getting ready for this — we wanted to bring a little bit of our culture to the people we work and live with."
The Gentlemen of Jones out of St. Croix, whose entry this year was entitled "Knights of Arabia," brought down the house with a giant Taj Mahal float. The males in the group were either dressed as sultans or sheiks, decked from head to toe in white, green or black. Most carried cigars and Mardi Gras beads, which were passed out liberally to nearby spectators. The women's costumes were gypsy-inspired, and ranged in color from pink to blue.
"It's fantastic," said Labor Commissioner Albert Bryan, when asked what he thought about this year's Carnival festivities. "This is what it's all about — having a
good time."
Delegate Donna Christensen also danced her way down the street with the group, along with Sen. James Weber and his wife, Gerri.
The St. Croix Majorettes took a "Trip to the Orient" this year with deep blue and red Chinese-inspired costumes. The group was flanked by a ceremonial Chinese dragon, and was, as usual, led up the parade route with music provided by Noel "DJ Massive" Percelle.
"Every year I take this group up the road," Percelle said, with a smile on his face. "And they love it. And I love it — it's exactly where I want to be."
Several troupes came down the street in two or three different sections — including members of the Fete'Tastique Carnival Troupe, which was led at one point by a member wearing a gold bald eagle costume. Other members wore V.I. flag costumes proudly, or feathered pieces colored in ice, gold and green. Part of the routine was set to quelbe music, while the last section of members roused the crowd by using jump ropes to move to the Bouncers Band's "Skip 'n' Dip."
Chester "Mighty Groover" Brady's also personified the spirit of quelbe music with a cart decorated with palm trees and replicas of various musical instruments.
"These are some of the instruments we used in the old days when we were playing quelbe music," he said. "That is how big quelbe used to be."
While Lt. Gov. Gregory R. Francis and the JDPP Jammerz took the audience on a trip to "Bed Rock" with their Flintstones-inspired hit song and dance, members of the University of the Virgin Island's troupe led the way through an underwater coral reef adventure. Heading up the group were mocko jumbies dressed as orange seahorses, followed by sections of students and staff members decked out as corals, sea turtles and mermaids.
"We're a coral reef community," explained UVI President LaVerne Ragster. "We're showing off one of the biggest parts of our Caribbean culture, and learning at the same time."
UVI was accompanied by Xtaushun Band out of St. Croix, whose trolley — hooked up with a bubble blower — completed the troupe's undersea effect.
This year's Carnival festivities, though still a bit rainy, was rounded out Saturday evening with the closing of the Carnival Village and the traditional fireworks, which lit up the sky over Charlotte Amalie in bright red, green, blue and yellow.
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