The Virgin Islands Daily News
Photo: Daily News Photo by CRISTIAN SIMESCU, License: N/A, Created: 2011:01:07 15:50:24

The Ricardo Richards Elementary School troupe takes part in the parade.

Photo: Daily News Photo by CRISTIAN SIMESCU, License: N/A, Created: 2011:01:07 11:47:17

The Central High School Band struts, marches and dances down King Street in Frederiksted during the Crucian Christmas Festival Children’s Parade on Friday.

Crucian children dazzle Festival crowd

ST. CROIX

The island's children got their chance to shine Friday.

They did not disappoint.

Hundreds of young Crucians showed off their talents and wowed the crowd at the Crucian Christmas Festival Children's Parade, smiling and waving, dancing, marching, beating drums and playing music, twirling and making steel pans sing.

"It's been great so far," said Nickya Francois as she stood in Buddhoe Park and watched the parade go by.

Majorettes, mocko jumbies, floupes and troupes, clowns and musicians all made their way down King Street to the grandstand, where, despite sometimes sweltering heat and heavy costumes, they smiled big smiles and put on a show.

The parade got under way close to its 10 a.m. start time, with Grand Marshal Sheneal Patrick and Festival royalty leading the way.

Gov. John deJongh Jr. said that Sheneal, a 17-year-old senior at St. Croix Central High School who is involved in many community activities, "exemplifies exactly what we're looking for when we ask young people to take more responsibility" as he presented her with a plaque.

Festival Duchess Kleshelle Gaskin, 6, seemed to have had enough of the heat when she made it to the grandstand, but she sat down briefly, had some water, then changed into her bright pink Sparkle Lites Twirler costume and headed back up the parade route, joining the twirling group for the rest of the parade.

Miss St. Croix Taryn Mashburn and first and second runners-up Stephany Stanley and Carizma Rojas, along with Festival Princess Quanisha Christensen and Prince Shakeem Crossley joined the governor and lieutenant governor in the grandstand to watch the festivities.

Quanisha said she'd had a lot of fun as princess, "getting to go everywhere and experience a lot of stuff."

Shakeem said the part he liked the best was the applause.

Stephany, decked out an elaborate yellow evening gown, said she just couldn't stay in the stands, and was down on the street, next to the guardrail, clapping and cheering as each parade entry went by.

"I just like to be part of it. I want to be out in there," she said. "I'm enjoying all the Festival troupes coming down. Everybody's playing mas, first class. Everybody's enjoying it. So am I."

Children in floupes and troupes, sporting brightly colored themed outfits ranging from Aztec costumes to sailor suits and fairy wear, complete with wings, danced down the streets.

Majorettes swirled and twirled, performing routines, while mocko jumbies towered above the festivities and sometimes broke into dance.

Clowns made their way along the route, while steel pan bands and traditional marching bands filled the town with music.

Jinayah Roberts, 10, a St. Croix Majorette, was watching the rest of the parade from Buddhoe Park with her family after she had finished the route.

"I like it when you get to see all the princesses and queens, and you get to see the steel pans," she said.

The parade also featured a quelbe band and quadrille dancers from St. Croix Educational Complex.

"I just like to come out and see the kids enjoy themselves and also hope they carry on the tradition when we're gone. That's important," said St. Croix resident Charles David as he watched from the sideline. "It seems like everyone's enjoying themselves. That's the main thing."

The cruise ship Celebrity Summit was docked at the Ann Abramson pier on Friday, and visitors mixed with locals along the parade route.

V.I. Tourism Commissioner Beverly Nicholson-Doty said that officials let the cruise lines know about the parade. Another ship is scheduled to call on St. Croix today during the Adult's Parade.

"We wanted them to know this was a real opportunity to get a special treat," she said. "They get the most magnificent showcase of culture over the next two days."

Juan Ferrer, a cruise ship passenger from San Juan, said he was enjoying the quelbe band from Complex.

"Beautiful," he said. "I'm having fun. We have the rhythm in our blood."

Chicagoan Glen Potter, originally from St. Croix, said he had come back to the island for a Festival vacation and was particularly enjoying the steel pan bands.

"I came just for the Festival this year - take a break from the cold, come on down, get some sunshine, party a little bit, drink a little bit, see some old friends," Potter said.

Festival continues today with the Adults Parade, which is scheduled to start at 10 a.m.

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