Good Morning, Good Morning! What a weekend! St. John surely came alive this year for our first carnival since 2019. The people, the parades, the music, the food…culture and revelry at last INDEED. The USVI Festival Committee really did an incredible job on the organization of all of the events this year with the most grandly executed J’ouvert I have attended and one of the largest Independence Day parades to date. The entire island is hungover from overindulgence of Jell-o shots and electric lemonades, glitter and confetti still line the streets, our bellies are full of roti and pate and fried chicken, our cheeks hurting from over smiling, our legs aching from dancing in the streets and our hearts overflowing with gratitude for this beautiful place and the weeklong celebrations of freedom we just experienced. The events culminate on the Fourth of July for a grand parade in the streets of Cruz Bay…An Independence Day parade like no other. And, before we move on this week into “other news,” I wanted to share some beautiful images with you all from yesterday, and from the past week of Carnival celebrations.
First of all, I cannot express in words the magic that a parade in Cruz Bay creates. Whether Fourth of July, J’ouvert or St. Patrick’s Day, if you have been in attendance for any of them, you GET this. They are all such uniquely home grown events with handmade costumes and decorations, speakers blaring music from the back of Jeeps, live bands playing on flatbed trucks and people of all ages from all walks of life in attendance and participation.
But, all of these things commingle with an explosion of the culture and heritage of the Virgin Islands and the Caribbean at large in the Fourth of July parade. It’s truly magnificent. And, I recall feeling yesterday, like everything was just normal again for an instant. Like there was no distant rage in the country, like freedom was ringing, like COVID had never happened and that we were just right back in that beautiful space that we had been just a few years ago. Like everything was exactly as it should be. And, for several hours, it was.
Ok, enough of my rambling 🙂 Let’s get into those pictures.
One REALLY neat thing the USVI Festivals team did this year was aerial imagery of the Village lit up at night. It was simply awesome waking up each morning to relive the night before via their Facebook page. You can also go back and watch the parades and the music from the Village on their page. It’s truly AWESOME!
And I absolutely LOVE this photo that Mitch Cruz took of St. John LIT UP for festival!
And…On to parade day! We spent the entire day over at Mongoose Junction, starting with lunch at Greengos while we waited for the festivities to start. After lunch, we headed down to the street for dancing and revelry. The parade start time was officially noon, but in the spirit of island time, things started a bit later than scheduled.
The absolutely GORGEOUS women in costume are always my favorite part. I so admire these ladies for getting out there and doing it! You all looked beautiful!
The male and female warriors in tribal African costumes are always awe inspiring…A nod to the sacrifices and challenges faced by the ancestors of generational Virgin Islanders and to their heritage.
The events of the week culminated in a beautiful fireworks display which we viewed from the beach in front of the Beach Bar while enjoying Chester’s famous fried chicken and the The Terrace’s equally famous Mac and Cheese 🙂
Many people have made mention of why we make such a big deal about Carnival here on St. John. If you have lived here or been lucky enough to be visiting during this time, you probably get it. But for those of you that don’t, it is truly a time when the entire island comes together to celebrate this incredible place and each other. Just around the corner there will come a time when many will go away for some off season down time. Some will leave island for good. It’s one last hurrah before hurricane season hypes up. It’s a time for us to be together and celebrate the people who let us be in this beautiful place with them. It is a time to celebrate both Emancipation and Independence. It is much much more than just music and revelry.
I hope that all of you enjoyed an absolutely magical holiday weekend, filled with love and positivity and hope for the future. I’ll leave you with that today…The community of St. John is sleeping it off and I’m about to join them 🙂