July 4, 2003 – Early morning rain greeted the revelers waiting to jump into J'Ouvert Friday morning. Dawn was breaking on Independence Day while hundreds who partied the night away left their bar stools, the boat dances and the "Christianville" Village to line up and jam down Cruz Bay's Dronningens Gade in the heart of Love City, St. John.
Some, like St. Johnian Leann Oquendo, kept the tradition of the early morning jump-up, stealing home for some sleep and rising early top join the crowd of 500 to 600 people. Oquendo said people waited out a brief cloudburst, then started up the road around 6 a.m. "We're all having a good time," she said.
A crop of bobbing bumpershoots popped up as a sprinkle fell moments later on the flatbed tractor-trailer bearing Nick "Daddy" Friday and the Jam Band.
One of the things that makes St. John's J'Ouvert unique is its spontaneity. Until the set rolls up the street, the bands on hand can only wait to see how many others will take part and which way the party will go, once it takes off.
This year's musical parade wound through the town of Cruz Bay from the Port Authority barge dock, past Cruz Bay Park and Nazareth Lutheran Church, and headed south toward Pine Peace.
A sleepy-eyed David Hodge paused at the back of the crowd near O'Connor's Texaco station to catch a glimpse of others having fun. Hodge said he came over Thursday night from St. Thomas and stayed up all night enjoying the festivities. "I love J'Ouvert a lot," he said. "You get a chance to see a lot of people you know; you don't see them every day. It's a lot of freedom."
Police were on hand to see that things remained peaceful. The 2003 July 4th Celebration has been almost incident free since "Christianville," this year's Village honoring Lambert "Fuzzy" Christian, opened on Monday.
The annual tramp to the tunes of favorite bands marked the start of "last lap" for the July 4th Celebration, setting the stage for a brighter and livelier Fourth of July parade later in the day. Thousands were expected to come from St. Thomas, the British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico to view the parade, among them Gov. Charles W. Turnbull.
The festivities are set to end at midnight with the evening's special entertainment consisting of a Jam Band stage show in the Village and the traditional fireworks in the bay around 9 p.m.
Publisher's note : Like the St. John Source now? Find out how you can love us twice as much — and show your support for the islands' free and independent news voice … click here.