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Tuesday, April 23, 2024


April 23, 2002 – Hundreds of Virgin Islanders and their guests joined reigning royalty, campaigning candidates and culture bearers galore for the official opening of the 50th Anniversary V.I. Carnival Village Monday night.
The ceremony in the Fort Christian parking lot was one to remember, not only for the grand column entrance set up for the ribbon-cutting ceremony, or for the Hollywood-style beacon that swept the night skies from atop a Carnival booth. Just as the Rev. George Franklin began the traditional invocation, the power to the stage went out, leaving clergy and laity alike in the dark.
The crowd waited patiently as V.I. Carnival Committee members clutched their cell phones to their cheeks. Half an hour later, all was well. "Now we can continue with the program, because lights don't stop this show," mistress of ceremonies Lillian Moolenaar said.
The lights came up on an elaborate decorated in the golden colors of the 50th anniversary, strewn with balloons of yellow and red, a big "50" glittering in gold at the front. Queen Cubie-Ayah George, King Kory Davis, Princess Reshai Corneiro, Prince Akeem Warner, Gov. Charles W. Turnbull, Lt. Gov. Gerard Luz James II, Dominica's Prime Minister Pierre Charles and 1952 Carnival instigator Ron de Lugo all collected accolades. But the stars of the night were the veteran food-booth operators for whom this year's Village is named — Sarah Harrington and Ismay Frett. Harrington was there to enjoy the attention; Frett was represented by a niece.
Soon thereafter, "Sarah and Ismay's Golden Palace" was open for business, and there was no lack of customers.
Harrington, who moved from Tortola to St. Thomas in the early '50s, has been involved in modern-day Carnival from its start. She was a member of the Wilson Troupe for six years and later joined the Danish Girls and the Mungo Niles Quadrille Dancers. "It was her love of cooking and the strong suggestion" of those familiar with it that led her to open Booth No. 37 in the Village, a release from the V.I. Carnival Committee states. "The first year, I didn't have the money," Harrington recalled. "But the next year I went — that was in the early '80s."
She retired in 1986 from a career working in the dietary department of Knud Hansen Memorial Hospital. She enjoys gardening and traveling but cooking is still her greatest pleasure, and she takes satisfaction from her customers enjoying her specialties such as Crab Rice and Pate.
Among her mentors she counts the late Gertrude Lockhart Dudley Melchior, whom she knew as "Mrs. Dudley." What she enjoys most about the Village is meeting and greeting people, and she plans to keep running her booth "as long as my two hands can lift."
Frett also grew up in the B.V.I. As a child, she was more interested in watching her mother cook in their kitchen than in playing with her siblings outside. She was an apt pupil, and as a teen-ager she was in charge in preparing her family's meals.
She had a booth for the B.V.I. Festival before she arrived on St. Thomas in the early '60s, her culinary skills ready and willing for a new challenge. Since the early '70s she has had The Tortola Booth in the Village. According to the Carnival Committee release, she thought about retiring a few years ago but her family and customers raised such a fuss that the gave in and kept on cooking.
When the time does come to step down, she says, she has a well-trained staff ready to take over — her nine children. The family motto is "Customers, don't despair, 'cause The Tortola Booth will always be there!"
Following Monday evening's Village opening ceremonies, the V.I. Housing Authority Steel Orchestra played until 8:30 p.m., then Jam Band took over from 9:30 p.m. to 2 a.m.
A full week of Carnival finale festivities
The roogoodoo goes on for the rest of the week, with a lot more 50th anniversary gold to gleam morning, noon, night and any other hours in between. All events are free unless otherwise indicated.
10 a.m.-4 p.m. — Beach fete at Magens Bay. There is shuttle service from the Magens Point Hotel and back.
6 p.m. — Pre-teen tramp, from Rothschild Francis "Market" Square to Carnival Village. The schools with the most trampers will take home trophies.
6:30 to 8:30 p.m. — Village music, Bertha C. Boschulte Burning Blazers steelband.
8 p.m. — Senior Citizens Quelbe Tramp, from "Market" Square to the Village. This event is not just for old-timers; its appeal is that it features the unplugged Carnival music of yesteryear, including the sounds of steelpan players who walk with their instruments hanging on straps around their necks.
9 p.m. to 1 a.m. — Village music, Stanley & the Ten Sleepless Knights.
8 a.m. — Unofficial opening of "McBeans' Golden Touch," this year's Carnival Food Fair in "Market" Square and extending up Main Street for a block or two. The honorees, Olga and Alvin McBean, are longtime Food Fair participants who have won numerous prizes for their plants. The formal opening ceremonies will probably take place around noon, but by that time the freshest and most favored of the foods, drinks, plants and other market offerings will be long gone.
7 to 10:15 p.m. — Village music, Starlites.
10:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. — Village music, Cool Session Brass.
12:30 a.m. (after midnight Wednesday night) — Roas-A-Time Warm-up, Veterans Drive. This will be the first Carnival "without J'Ouvert" in many a year, but it's all a matter of semantics. The winin', limin' and party-timin' will go on as usual, just under a different name.
Until 2 a.m. — Village music, Cool Session Brass.
2:30 to 4 a.m. — Village music, Byron Lee and the Dragonnaires.
4 a.m. – Roas-A-Time for true (Well, if not 4, then 5; if not 5, then 5:30), with Byron Lee, moving from the Addelita Cancryn overpass to Carnival Village.
8 a.m. to noon — Village music to continue Roas-A-Time, St. Croix's Phranchize.
10 a.m. to 4 p.m. — Carnival exhibition in Emancipation Garden including displays of costumes and memorabilia, steelpan-making demonstration, commentary on cultural art forms and music by Milo's Kings.
8 p.m. – V.I. Calypso Monarch Competition, Lionel Roberts Stadium. Reigning three-peat king Whadablee will try to make it four in a row, but a lot of talent is taking him on. Admission is $12 in advance (available at Daniel's Variety Store, Family Health Center, Krystal and Gifts Galore, Modern Music/Havensight and Nisky Pharmacy), $15 at the gate.
10 p.m. to 2 a.m. — Village music, Sea Breeze.
10 a.m. to around 2 p.m. – Children's Parade, from "Market" Square to the stadium.
6 to 9 p.m. — Village music, St. Croix's Xpress Band.
9 p.m. to midnight — Village music, "An Old-Time Calypso Roogoodoo" calypso show featuring Mighty Sparrow, Lord Nelson, Short Shirt and Swallow, plus Xpress Band and Imaginations Brass.
1 to 3 a.m. – Village music, Imaginations Brass.
10 a.m. to around 6 p.m. – Adults' Parade, from Western Cemetery to the stadium.
6 to 9 p.m. — Village music, Milo's Kings.
9:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. — Village music, P'Your Passion.
10 p.m. – "Thunder Over Charlotte Amalie" fireworks show — starting an hour later than usual and with rockets being fired from two boats in the harbor. Zambelli Fireworks Internationale is doing the honors as usual, with the 20 minutes worth of sky sights choreographed to Carnival sounds that viewers can tune in to on Knight Quality Stations — WVWI, Jamz and Kiss-FM. Boaters can anchor in the harbor but must stay at least 1,000 feet from the two vessels — the M/V Lady Romney and the GEM-101 barge. All marine traffic will be halted during the fireworks.
7 p.m. – "Last Lap" dance, Palms C
ourt Harborview Hotel, with music by the Starlites. Tickets are $15 in advance (available at Daniel's Variety Store, Family Health Center, Krystal and Gifts Galore, Modern Music/Havensight and Nisky Pharmacy), $20 at the door.
Safety and security are a priority
Police Chief Novelle Francis issued a request on Monday that Carnival celebrants "take extra-special care and caution" in traversing Veterans Drive. He urged pedestrians to "utilize the crosswalks, especially in the well-lighted areas."
And V.I. Housing Authority Police Chief Fitzroy Williams had this advice: Parents should attach to the clothing of children under 5 something bearing the child's name, address and telephone number. Children should not accept rides from strangers. Curfew applies; youths under 16 out after 10 p.m. need to be accompanied by an adult. Parents should talk to their teen-agers and young adults about not taking weapons to Carnival events.
Williams also said housing community residents need to understand that if a member of their household is arrested on drug or firearm charges, the whole household is at risk of being evicted. He cited a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision holding that a housing authority "can evict a member of the tenant household or the entire household when a member of the tenant's household, or a guest, engages in drug-related criminal activity, regardless of whether the tenant knew, and or had reason to know, of the activity."

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