The lingering recession may have whittled down the numbers, but the spirit and revelry of this year’s Adult’s Parade did not suffer, as spectacular troupes, floupes and bands of all shapes and sizes dazzled the crowd in Post Office Square.
Most of the groups pulled out all the stops this year, with larger than life floats to match their costumes and themes. Vibrant pinks, bright greens and brilliant blues were all the rage, with troupe organizers saying they were trying to show off the best parts of Caribbean culture, from the sights to the food, and all the things in between.
At the front of the parade, for example, the Luna’tics from Compass Point Marina’s La Luna Salon were celebrating beauty, with participants dressed up in tight black corsets and fish net stockings adorned with peacock feather headdresses and masks.
“The peacock is really the most exquisite animal in nature,” said salon owner Hilary Marquardt, whose group had the spectators – especially the men on the sidelines – whistling in approval. Black sequins studded the costumes, which the girls matched with their makeup, sporting turquoise eye-shadow with thick black-mascaraed lashes. The group was a multi-cultural bunch, Marquardt said, reflective of the territory’s “melting pot of cultures.”
Longtime favorite the Sebastien Majorettes also had a multi-cultural theme, as their twirlers glided through to a routine set to “Jai-Ho,” te Oscar and Grammy winning theme song from the movie “Slumdog Millionaire.” Dressed in blue and gold, the majorettes smiled as they kept pace with the tightly choreographed routine by Sen. Shawn-Michael Malone, which also had the girls, at one point, twirling while they sat on gold-painted crates set up in the middle of the square.
Nary a baton hit the ground as the girls parted to make way for Joel Claudio – an extra with the group for the past couple of years – dressed head to toe in silver and white, with two batons being passed from arm to arm, across the neck and shoulders and high overhead as he moved along with the music. Speaking later, Claudio said he’s been practicing non-stop for next year’s world majorette competition in Switzerland.
“So I’ve been training a lot here on St. Thomas, and it’s really been wonderful,” he said. “It’s a bit hot today, but it’s totally worth it. I love Carnival – I could do this every day.”
Coming up the road with his one-man float, Chester “Mighty Groover” Brady displayed the same kind of energy as he paid tribute to the children of the territory with a “candy garden” festooned with lifelike peppermint pies, cakes and other sugary treats. Groover stopped to shake hands as he trotted up the route, saying that he’s usually honored adults during the parade, but this year decided to do something different – an effort that wasn’t lost on the crowd.
As Groover moved closer to the square, little KyMiah Crooke, just a year and six months old, ducked under the rope railings lining the route and waved her hands in tune with the music. Mom Jeanette Smith moved quickly to catch her, smiling as she said that she forewent participating in the parade this year to hang out with her daughter at the events.
“She keeps me busy enough,” Smith said.
With Mother’s Day right around the corner, a few of the troops also celebrated the holiday with pink-inspired costumes. But the Charming Twirlers Majorettes made it even more interesting as the younger girls moved up the route with their mothers twirling right behind them.
“This is the first time in a long time I’ve seen a women’s troupe,” one of the spectators called out to Kirsten Petty, who walked alongside. “That really surprised me.”
While the Twirlers also celebrated their 25th anniversary this year, the Rising Stars Youth Steel Orchestra turned the big 30, and had their trolleys bouncing behind floats that celebrated their three decades worth of accomplishments.
“We were an experimental program started back in 1981 by Judge Verne Hodge, and at the end, the kids had such a good time, they wanted to do it all year round,” said Glendia B. Caines, court administrator for the V.I. Superior Court. Caines said the funding was subsequently put in place to continue the program, which recently expanded to both districts. The group has been honored both nationally and internationally and has been featured in various parades and movies – including “Weekend at Bernie’s II,” which was displayed on this year’s float.
“We’re very proud of all their success,” Caines said of the students that have graduated from the program.
The steel band’s traditional red and gold palette was echoed a few floats behind by the Party Lovers Carnival Troupe, which also added in green and peach in an entry themed “Color Me Caribbean,” which organizers said celebrated the forest, sun, ocean and flowers of the Caribbean. Strutting around in the middle, full tail feathers on display, was George Lewis, the troupe’s “King of the Band,” who pointed out that his water costume was tipped with silver jellyfish.
“We have the most beautiful waters, and that’s one of the things we’re out here celebrating today,” Lewis said. “And we’re having a great time doing it.”
Joining Party Lovers in celebrating the territory’s natural resources, the Enfernos Carnival Troupe lit up the route with a “Birds of Paradise” theme that included purple and blue peacocks, pink flamingos and light blue lovebirds, while a little further up, the University of the Virgin Islands presented an eco-themed float, complete with spinning windmills and mocko jumbies dressed in green. The slogan “reduce, reuse and recycle” was painted across the side, as UVI also celebrated the recent launch of its Caribbean Green Technology Center, which is committed to the promotion of green energy ideas and programs.
While not in harmony with UVI’s green theme, the Gentlemen of Jones’ “Soul Train” – a life-sized steam engine float with a hollowed out car – was still a crowd favorite, with male participants dressed as pimps and the females sporting afros and Foxy Brown like outfits. Everyone was handing out mardi gras beads as the float moved along playing the O’Jays classic “For the Love of Money.”
Decked out in purple, Finance Commissioner Angel Dawson was among the group.
“But I’m not a pimp, I’m a Pip,” he joked. “And these are all my Gladyses.” Dawson, along with the rest of the men were also sporting the bling, with gold colored dollar sign necklaces and rings.
“We’re having a blast,” Dawson said.
The Traditional Indians brought up the rear of parade, which boasted 42 entries this year.