July 4, 2003 – It was hot, hot, hot in Cruz Bay on Friday, and the participants in St. John's July 4th Celebration parade were just as sizzling.
"I found these flame T-shirts and it went from there," Deanna Somerville of the island's Middle Age Majorettes said. "When I heard 'Hot, Hot, Hot,' it all came together."
Always a crowd favorite, the group chose T-shirts this year printed with flame bikinis. Some of the two dozen or so members had flame wigs. Their banner read "Hot and Flashing."
The parade saw a good sprinkling of beauty queens both, young and more mature, a prince, majorette groups in lamé and sparkles, and the Love City Pan Dragons.
Many in the two plus hour parade hailed from St. Thomas, but St. John had its own troupes, floupes and individual entries, too.
Milton Samuel, the grand marshal, lead the parade in a convertible.
As usual, the Caneel Bay Resort float was a stunner. This year's entry with seven doves pulling a chariot interpreted the theme of "Celestial Harmony in 2003." Dozens of women in blue and white satin costumes danced behind.
AARP members from St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John joined forces to perform quadrille dances to tunes from the St. Thomas scratch band Smalls and the Music Makers.
The Westin Resort's float had a purpose other than to just entertain. With long-retired educator Guy Benjamin, for whom the Coral Bay school is named, as the its centerpiece, the float promoted literacy through books.
Pan in Motion, a St. Thomas steelpan group, came decked out in camouflage fatigues. "We're paying tribute to the troops," Tino Pickering said.
Staff members of St. John's Safety Zone handed out Frisbees from a truck as part of its campaign against violence. "Have a nonviolent carnival and rest of the year," director Iris Kern urged.
Thousands of people packed Cruz Bay for the festivities. It was a day to see and be seen as residents and visitors exchanged pleasantries.
"I'm going to take in the sights and do some people watching," said Bob McMahon, a New York City fireman vacationing on St. John.
Skip and Judy Cooney of West Hartford, Connecticut, who are staying at Maho Bay Camps, were amazed at the slow start and even slower pace of the parade. In fact, the parade had stopped after it started, near the east side of the Creek, to wait for the arrival of Gov. Charles W. Turnbull at the reviewing stand.
After a wait of about 20 minutes, the parade picked up again, to wend its way from the V.I. National Park ballfield through downtown Cruz Bay and up to the Texaco station intersection.
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