April 27, 2006- The revelers came. They came from 5:30 a.m. on. They waited. They lined Veterans Drive, danced without music, bought food and drinks from the hastily thrown-together stands on the waterfront and greeted old and new friends.
And finally, a bit after 7 a.m. the 2006 Carnival J'ouvert, scheduled for a 4 a.m. start, got under way. The trucks lurched forward in their slow crawl from west of Addelita Cancryn Junior High School hauling the celebration's bands.
And nobody seemed to mind. These folks are a patient lot. Retired teacher Barbara Lawrence didn't mind. "I'm a J'ouvert pro," she said with a laugh. Lawrence said she can't really remember how many of the early morning events she has attended. "Twenty or 25 it must be," she said.
Thursday morning she escorted a first-timer, Mace McDowell. "I was always working on the East End, so I never got to come before," McDowell said. "I love the costumes – they're beautiful, and off the wall, just nuts. It's not like the parades where they're contrived. These are spontaneous."
McDowell knew whereof she spoke. There was all manner of feathers, beads, masks, babies with baubles threaded through their braids, a young man with the V.I. flag flowing out behind him as a cape, a young girl in short shorts and a sturdy pair of rubber waders on her feet.
The spirit of late Jam Band leader Trevor Nicholas "Nick" "Daddy" Friday, ruled over the crowd, as it has since Carnival village, carrying his name, opened Monday night.
Youngsters wearing T-shirts emblazoned with "Super Hero" or simply "Daddy Friday," waited patiently for the "Awesome Jam Band" truck. Though it was preceded by the St. Kitts Sugar Band and the Ackton Band, most loyal trampers stayed behind to tramp after their beloved Jam Band.
The event brought out the entrepreneurial spirit in a couple enterprising souls. Two women, attired in colorful aprons which bore signs saying, "Shots $2," stood on the sidelines. One, rather solemnly, clutched a bottle of Jägermeister liqueur, under her arm. It didn't appear to be a happy endeavor, as both women looked oddly serious in their early morning stab at consumerism.
No matter. The happy faces around them drowned out any hint of anything but "jumping up."
The crowd danced merrily down Veterans Drive, waving flags, towels, cowbells and a tambourine or two.
And you'd never know the event was late. Who cared?
After the last tramper had boogied down Veterans Drive, the joy of the morning wasn't over. A clutch of happy sea gulls busily crowded each other in the street stuffing themselves with the crumbs left in the revelers' wake.
The 2006 Carnival celebration will wind up with the Children's Parade on Friday, followed by the Adults' Parade on Saturday. Carnival village – "Friday's Road March Kingdom"- will be open both nights. The village closes Sunday, bringing an end to "Glamour and Glitz for 2006."
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