April 15, 2002 – Emancipation Garden was filled with royalty of Carnivals past and present for the 50th coronation ceremony Sunday afternoon.
King Kory Davis and Queen Cubie-Ayah George donned golden crowns and gold velvet capes at the David Monsanto Bandstand before a platform of dignitaries including Gov. Charles W. Turnbull and former Delegate Ron deLugo, one of the pioneers of modern-day Carnival in 1952.
The king and queen were joined by the 2002 prince and princess, Akeem Warner and Reshai Corneiro. "Don't drink and drive, stay drug free, no violence, no crime. Just roas' a time," Corneiro and Warner said in unison, peering over the top of the lectern.
2001 Carnival Queen Cherisse Woods was on hand to crown her successor, and 1982 King Dwayne DeGraff came to the bandstand to pass his crown to Davis, the first Carnival King in 20 years.
"It is a beautiful day in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and there's no other place I'd rather be than with you," King Kory told his subjects.
The petite queen, dressed in white like her king, addressed some of the controversy that arose after the King and Queen Talent and Selection Show on April 6. Supporters of another contestant say they have complained to the V.I. Carnival Committee about what they claim were irregularities that occurred during the show.
"It has made me keenly aware that I would not have been devestated, had I not won this crown," Queen Cubie-Ayah said. "For every one who supports me, I say thank you. For those who do not, I say thank you, too."
The governor recalled how as a boy he had stood in Emancipation Garden watching then- governor Morris de Castro crown Carmen Nicholson and Leo Sibilly as the first king and queen. The first royal couple, who became a real couple soon after, missed Sunday's event because they had traveled to Atlanta to celebrate the birth of a new granddaughter. Their daughter Monique Sibilly Hodge, a former Carnival princess and now assistant Tourism commissioner, brought greetings of behalf of her parents . "I am extremely proud to be here … representing my mother and father," Hodge told the crowd. "They will be back next week to roas' a time and have a cultural roogoodoo with all 'a you."
King Leo and Queen Carmen also were honored by the U.S. Postal Service, which captured their image in a special commemorative issue to celebrate the golden anniversary of Carnival. V.I. Postmaster Louis A. Jackson led the cancellation ceremony with the governor and Delegate Donna Christian Christensen looking on. There also was a cancellation for a second Carnival pictorial bearing the likeness of King of the Band William "Champagne" Chandler.
Also in attendance at the coronation festivities were about a dozen princes, princesses, kings and queens from over the years who rose at the invitation of mistress of ceremonies Debra Brown Ruomo to salute the crowd.
The turnout for this year's coronation was modest compared with years when the Sunday afternoon event was sandwiched between the annual boat races on the Charlotte Amalie waterfront and Pan-O-Rama at Lionel Roberts Stadium. This time, the newly crowned royals and their court boarded a safari bus for the trip to the 50th Anniversary Coronation Ball held Sunday night at Palms Court Harborview Hotel.
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