April 18, 2002 – The creative minds and able bodies behind the towering costumes seen at modern Caribbean parades outdid themselves for the V.I. Carnival 50th Anniversary King and Queen of the Band Competition Wednesday night at Lionel Roberts Stadium.
Nearly 5,000 spectators packed the stadium to cheer their favorites in the dramatic display by an exceptionally large field of eight contestants.
Judges picked former St. John Festival Queen Cheryl Boynes-Jackson of the Hugga Bunch troupe and twice-crowned King of the Band Darryl Donovan Sr. of the Infernos as the winners.
Jackson commanded the stage in a 22-foot high "Spirit of Roogoodoo" costume ablaze with shattered prism foil and lush gold ostrich plumes and a towering Egyptian crown of yellow and gold.
Donovan was equally resplendent in a fantasy confection created with layers of lime green and sea foam feathers accented with thin blue pin feathers around a dazzling center of silver laser foil, topped off by a silver filigree umbrella mounted high overhead. "Our colors were different," Donovan said afterward. "You've never seen a king in lime green and blue and iridescent colors."
Trinidadian artisans turned aluminum tubing and wire mesh into mobile works of art, working hard to outdo each other with their fanciful fantasies. Characters ascending the stage included a book, a whirling chandelier, an African lion framed by silken banners, a prancing king surrounded by feathery flames, a mermaid surrounded by sea life on an ornate frame that ended in a series of scrolled points.
But it took more than splendor to win the judges' favor. Some of the elaborate costumes weighed as much as 100 pounds — and the hopes of a couple of contestants fell apart on stage along with their get-ups. The seasoned performers know to utilize the entire stage to strut and turn, giving the rods and wire mesh the opportunity and the space to sway to the music.
Featured troupes included the stalwart Elskoe and Associates, which won first runner-up for King of the Band; Jus' Action, which took second runner-up for Queen; Party Lovers; Fun Lovers; and the University of the Virgin Islands, celebrating its own 40th anniversary as well as the 50th of V.I. Carnival.
A new troupe, Acacia, was the winner in a two-contestant field for the title of Junior King and Queen of the Band. Taking the titles were Tyeefah Lynch, 7, and her brother Jahquiel Lynch, 9.
The costumed royalty competition was part of Wednesday's traditional Culture Night show. Producers kept the attention of the ever-growing audience with nonstop showcases of quadrille dancers from Lockhart and Ulla Muller Elementary Schools, a Spanish poetry reading and merengue dancers from Charlotte Amalie High School, the Mungo Niles Dancers also doing the quadrille; and music by Milo's Kings.
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