The Crucian Christmas Festival has taken to the internet this season, but the U.S. Virgin Islands’ Division of Festivals has not yet determined how it will handle spring’s St. Thomas Carnival.
The division released a schedule of events for the season in November. Since the pandemic began in March, St. Thomas and St. John festivals were virtual events – St. Thomas in April, St. John in July and now St. Croix.
“It was important for the Division of Festivals to host the Crucian Christmas festivities in a virtual format to create a sense of community, camaraderie and a ‘virtual’ carnival experience during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Ian Turnbull, director of the Division of Festivals. “To give Virgin Islanders, and Crucians specifically, a sense of normalcy in our cultural norms and traditions.”
As for plans regarding whether St. Thomas will be having their Carnival, Turnbull said, “We have been feverishly working on plans for the St. Thomas Carnival, and pending the return to normalcy we will reduce the schedule of events with strong health protocols. We can also rely on our virtual foundation if COVID-19 numbers become problematic.”
Tourism Commissioner Joseph Boschulte said there are advantages to both live and virtual festivities.
“Hosting the festivals virtually may lower the decibels and intensity, but it also allows viewers a closer look at the intricacies of our music, dance and art,” Boschulte said. “Festivals are platforms for our residents to joyfully strut our cultural and culinary stuff for the world.”
The month of virtual events for St. Croix kicked off with the “Ah Glow in the Park – A Crucian Chandelier of Lights” tree lighting on Dec. 6 in downtown Christiansted’s Limpricht Park. The Christiansted Community Alliance and the Crucian Cultural Group lit the town of Christiansted with a virtual tree lighting.
“The Division of Festivals’ main objective is to shine a light on the festival arts in the U.S. Virgin Islands and the wider Caribbean,” Turnbull said.
On Friday, a Moko Jumbie and Masquerade Dialogue with Willard John and Chalana Brown discussed the history of those art forms and their place in the festival season. Viewers were able to tune in via the Division of Festivals Facebook page or on the division’s website.
On Friday, Dec. 18, viewers were also able to see the “Virtual Culture, Heritage and Tradition Mobile Lantern Parade” held by the Crucian Cultural Group. The mobile lantern parade traveled from Christiansted into the La Reine Chicken Shack.
The virtual “Crucian Christmas Festival Culinary Showcase” has been scheduled for Dec. 29, but has not yet been posted to the Division of Festivals’ Facebook page. The event will stand in this year for the annual Crucian Food Fair. Chef Lamar Bough will prepare a traditional Crucian dish and the idea is for viewers to be able to cook along. A full ingredients list will be provided and, once the video is posted, viewers can cook along with the chef.
“People travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands because of our natural blessing of verdant gardens and beaches on pristine waters, but people also travel to see and be with people. Festivals are wonderful ways of seeing and often joining our dances, our music and tasting our cuisines,” said Assistant Commissioner Alani Henneman Todman.
On Dec. 23 and 24 viewers will also be able to tune into the WTJX and see “Stanley and the Ten Sleepless Knights Christmas Serenade.” Stanley and the Ten Sleepless Knights will travel through neighborhoods and awake the community with their traditional serenades that ring in the festival season every year. The difference this year will be the event’s time and, unlike tradition, the starting point will not be announced in order to avoid crowds gathering.
On Dec. 24 a “Then, There and Now” dialogue with the Crucian Cultural Group will discuss what the festival was then, what it is now and what they expect for the future.
“We have something unique for St. Croix ‘Jou’Virtual’ that will definitely make viewers feel like they are at a real J’ouvert. You have to tune in to see,” Turnbull said. “Feters” will be able to tune into the Division of Festivals Facebook page on Dec. 30 where they can participate and “Wuk Up” at home.
The division says the method will be a bit different from “Jou’Virtuals” done on St. Thomas and St. John
Children’s Parade and Adults’ Parade will be broadcasted on WTJX on Jan. 1 and Jan. 2. The Division of Festivals announced its schedule for the Festival Village.
“The Virtual Village nights will showcase the pizzaz of all our diverse communities. With music from Stanley and the Ten Sleepless Knights to Kruziano or the reigning St. Croix Road March Camps the Fusion Band, Vio International or Pressure for the reggae lovers. We have music for all,” Turnbull said.
The Virtual Village Lineup is:
– Cultural Night begins at 6 p.m. Dec. 25, with Stanley and the Ten Sleepless Knights, Fusion Band and Kruziano,
– Reggae Night will begin at 7 p.m. Jan. 1, featuring performances by Tias, Ras Attitude, Pressure Busspipe and King Lion, and
– ‘CalypSoca’ Night begins at 7 p.m. Jan. 2, with Vio, Big Band, Pumpa, Bugz, Mic Love and Adam O.
People can watch Village performances on the division Facebook page.
Wrap up for the Crucian Christmas Festival will be on Jan. 6 with the return of Stanley and the Ten Sleepless Nights.