June 28, 2003 – As grand marshall of the 11th annual DC Caribbean Carnival, Delegate Donna M. Christensen will lead the Mas Bands Parade through the streets of downtown Washington, D.C., starting at noon Saturday.
"I am pleased to once again represent the Virgin Islands as grand marshal," Christensen said. "It is always good to share the vibrancy of our culture and our people with the wider world, and this event is a good opportunity to do just that."
This is her second stint as grand marshal, according to a release; her first was in 2001. She got the invitation by virtue of being the only member of Congress from the Caribbean.
The parade, which was expected to feature more than 5,000 participants, was moved to the downtown tourist section of the federal district this year, with the Capitol as a backdrop, because it has outgrown its former route along Georgia Avenue and Banneker Park. The parade and other carnival events are expected to attract more than a half million spectators, according to the release.
For D.C. readers: The new route goes from Third Street and Madison Drive NW along Pennsylvania Avenue, then west along Constitution Avenue 14th Street NW, then back to Pennsylvania Avenue and right to the reviewing stand and judging in front of the Wilson Building.
After the parade ends (at "6 p.m. sharp," organizers say) at 13th and Penn, spectators and participants will continue on to party at the "DC Carnival Plaza" set up along Pennsylvania Avenue between 10th and 13th Streets. Caribbean food, arts and crafts, music and entertainment will be featured.
While the EchodHaiti Web site concedes that the event is "a Trinidadian and Guyanese affair," the Haitians claim to have made great inroads into the event, parading in 2002 to the rhythm of Haitian music — quite different from soca and reggae.
The V.I. Association of the DC Metro Area is representing the territory with a troupe, sponsored in part by the Tourism Department, featuring four costume designs, one of which is pictured above.
Association members warmed up Friday night with a J'ouvert boat ride starting at 11:30 p.m. aboard the Spirit of Washington. Other carnival activities will include entertainment on Saturday evening and Sunday at the "DC Carnival Plaza" by performers including the Pan Masters Steel Orchestra and soca singer Alphonsus "Arrow" Cassell.
Christensen said she would join the V.I. Association on Sunday at a picnic from noon to dusk in Riverdale, Maryland, where there will be non-stop volleyball and softball along with lots of "local" — i.e., Virgin Islands — food.
"I look forward to the opportunity to fellowship with our friends and neighbors who live on the mainland but whose hearts and minds are still with the territory," she said. "I also consider them to be a vital part of my constituency."
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