Children took over the streets of Frederiksted Friday morning, showing their costumes, creativity and talent in the annual Crucian Christmas Festival Children’s Parade.
With an assortment of majorettes, marching bands, historical references and story book characters, this years’ parade drew rounds of applause from the spectators who braved the blazing sun to support the islands’ youth.
The parade began at about 10:30 a.m. from the Claude O. Markoe Elementary School and ended at about 4:30 p.m. near the Rita Myers Chiverton Centennial Village. The entries moved smoothly down King Street without the gaps and delays that put a damper on previous parades.
The Children’s Parade has a history of poor turnout, but Friday’s crowd seemed to bigger than in recent years, with more than 30 entries – troupes, floopes and floats – bringing the glitter, glamor and excitement to the eager crowd.
"This was one of the best children’s parades I have seen in a long time," said Florine Audain Hassell. "I like that the children seem more energetic, the costumes are so creative and there was more participation from the schools."
Grand Marshall Jermaine Mulley led the parade. A teacher at his alma mater, St. Croix Central High School, as well as a youth pastor, Mulley was chosen because of his commitment to youth. He was presented with a commemorative mahogany plaque by Gov. Kenneth E. Mapp, who praised his work. Also leading the parade was the Centennial Prince C’Jay Prevost, Princess Jaynae Davis, Duchess Melodi De La Cruz as well as Centennial Queen El Nielsen.
Parade goers commented on the originality of several entries and were especially pleased that there were no gaps or long delays. One of the biggest and most creative troupes was the entry by the Virgin Islands Department of Education through its division of Cultural Education. The entry depicted characters found in the Governor’s Summer Reading challenge books, including Broo Nansi and the "Brown Pelican". Both the Pelican and and the culturally familiar Broo Nansi figures were eight to ten feet in length, held aloft by several volunteers who moved together to bring the characters to life.
Other troupe members held large paper mache crabs, fish and other sea creatures.
Royalty is always in abundance at V.I. parades. Some of the queens, princess, princes and little misses in Friday;’s parade represented Pearl B. Larsen school, Ricardo Richards, Claude O. Markoe, Lew Muckle, Miss USVI Talented Teen, Miss Virgin Islands Caribbean, St. Croix Central High School and the Educational Complex.
Students from Pearl B. Larsen Elementary School took everyone on an African safari. The children wore costumes that transformed them into iguanas, lions and tigers.
The entry from the Alfredo Andrews Elementary School was a historical journey through St. Croix history under seven flags. The students’ colorful costumes portrayed the countries that ruled over the VI from arrival of the Spanish through 1917 when the US bought the islands from Denmark.
There was plenty of musical talent the St. Croix Central High School and the St. Croix Educational Complex marching bands showed their skills and synchronized moves. Steel bands included the Rising Stars Steel Orchestra, the Lew Muckle Steel Orchestra, Elena Christian Jr. High School Steel Pan and the Simba Steel Orchestra.
The St. Croix Majorettes celebrated the Centennial with outfits featuring the V.I. eagle on their chests and headpieces blooming with bright yellow feathers. The Sankofa Children’s Fun troupe, the Sparkle Lite Twirlers, Guardians of Culture, the Hypa-Aktiv Krew Band also participated.
Mapp and Education Commissioner Sharron McCollum watched the parade from the dignitaries stand. Noting that 100 students came from St. Thomas and St. John for the parade, Mapp said it is important that students have the benefit of inter-island travel to meet their Crucian counterparts while experiencing V.I. culture first hand.
In addition to the storybook entry the government also sponsored a troupe of students from all three island who excel in sports and music. The youth wore their athletic outfits or carried their musical instruments in the parade.