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Crowd Enjoys Children's Festival Parade After Long Wait

Jan. 4, 2007 — The theme of "Culture, History and Tradition Remain on the Slate" was evident Friday for the annual Children's Festival Parade, despite it running well behind schedule.
More than 34 groups gave their portrayal of the theme.
"The parade encourages the kids to remember culture, hold onto history and keep up with traditions," said Takiyah Antoine, parade marshal.
The children appeared excited and nervous waiting for the parade to begin. The groups had assembled at Claude O. Markoe Elementary School by 10 a.m., but the parade didn't really get underway until noon.
"I'm learning patience," said Dainia Daniels, Miss Good Shepherd from School of the Good Shepherd, as she waited in a black BMW convertible.
"The delay gives me more time to line up the girls," said Olga Martinez, instructor of the tiny St Croix Majorettes.
"They need to be more organized," said Lydia Nichols, a parent of a child participating.
Hundreds of people were sitting in folding canvas chairs under shaded galleries all along King Street. Any and all available shade was taken along the parade route by young and old. One senior citizen was chilling in the shade, listening to her iPod and nodding to her music while waiting for the parade to begin.
Gov. John deJongh Jr. and Lt. Gov. Gregory Francis walked along the parade route, talking to citizens and offering New Year's greetings before the parade began.
Vendors lined the street selling parade toys and trinkets. Food purveyors offered barbecue chicken, johnnycake, pates and cold drinks.
The UMB Soldiers band started the parade, getting people psyched for fun. Pan Connection Steel Symphony Rising Stars from Ricardo Richards performed from a truck covered in bright yellow and red plastic flowers. The truck appeared to jump as the students got into the music.
Making a comeback this year was the Marching Barracudas band from St. Croix Complex High School. The band received hearty applause and cheers as it marched by. Leading the band were modestly dressed flag girls and a chorus line doing choreographed steps.
There was royalty from almost all the elementary and junior high schools riding in the back of pickup trucks and convertibles. The children wore sparkling crowns with perfect coiffures. Their colorful gowns were made of satin, sequins, lace, flowers and madras.
Into the parade a couple of blocks, after the long wait for the start, it appeared some of the littlest girls in St. Croix Majorettes had a tough time keeping their concentration and had enough of marching. But, dressed in royal blue sequined suits with gold glitter top hats, the older girls kept things going for the whole parade.
The Sparkle Lites Twirlers, dressed in red and white gingham with white eyelet lace, did some fancy twirling for the crowd for the whole route from Claude O. Markoe School to the Village at the north end of Frederiksted.
Alfredo Elementary School's troupe was dressed as birds of paradise. The children had bright pink, teal blue, red, black, white and orchid costumes with gold trim, sequins and wings made of feathers.
Children from Ricardo Richards Elementary School had a different take on the theme for 2008. A group of girls were dressed in their Sunday best, with long, old-fashioned gingham skirts and white blouses. Some children were dressed in costumes relative to fire burn with flames and torches. Little ones were dressed in blue and gray camouflage suits with snorkel masks for a sea-exploration theme. Dressed in silver-spangled dresses were the Futuristic 2008 girls.
Portraying characters "from the coast of Ghana to the shores of St. Croix" was the troupe from Alexander Hamilton Elementary School. Children were dressed in elephant, zebra, cheetah and lion costumes. Teachers and adults were dressed in purple, green and orange-print traditional African dresses. In the troupe they had students dressed in white depicting enslaved African people of the colonial era. Quelbe dancers wore white blouses and red, green, orange and yellow madras with matching head wraps.
The Ricardo Richards Elementary School also had nine Guardians of Culture mocko jumbies that performed non-stop.
One of the students appeared to be weary from the heat halfway through the route as he rested on top of an SUV.
Applause and cheers showed that the design and creativity of costumes focusing on the theme of the festival was appreciated.
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