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On-Time Kids' Parade Gets Off On Right Foot

Jan. 2, 2009 — Even the tiniest participants in the Children's Crucian Festival Parade still looked fresh after marching through Frederiksted and reaching the judge's stand near Fort Frederik. The weather was perfect Friday for the young dancers and twirlers — not too hot and not too sunny, with the temperature in the low 80s and a slight breeze.
And the parade started close to the scheduled time so the kids didn't have to stand around Claude O. Markoe School waiting to get moving as in previous years.
"This year we tried something different," said Roberto James, parade director. "We gave entrants their number ahead of time, and they have the people ready to go. It's more organized this way."
Davidson Charlemagne, Crucian Christmas Festival president, said James has done an excellent job organizing the parade.
"He is someone with vision," Charlemagne said. "And he has experience."
There were 33 groups in the parade, with Grand Marshal Denis Lynch II leading the pack. Lynch is a UVI student who stands out for his leadership ability and commitment to the community and youth.
"It is a real honor to be chosen as the Grand Marshal," Lynch said. "I've always been a spectator but it is nice being part of the parade for the kids."
A Crucian festival parade isn't a parade without royalty. There were all sorts of royalty riding in convertibles and backs of pickups from Miss St. Croix to Little Mr. and Miss Sunflower.
And a parade has to have clowns — this year there were two troupes. Alexander Henderson Elementary School had old-fashioned clowns in red, green, purple and blue satin baggy suits and tall pointed hats. And the Crucian Clowns were in white satin with colored polka dots and jingle bells pinned to the dots, topped off with rainbow colored wigs.
The tiniest participants were as young as three in the Sparkle Lites Twirlers majorette group. They wore cute little gold ballet flats, royal blue leotards and madras tutus with red sashes. Each festive youngster had a sprinkling of gold dust on back and a big yellow flower in perfectly coiffured hair.
Performing in their first parade were 11 Elena Christian Junior High mocko jumbies that just got together as a group in September. Carla Calderon, one of the group leaders, said they are honoring and showcasing all the mocko jumbies that came before them. On Friday, they honored Willard John for being a tradition bearer who taught their instructor, Amir Saleem, a teacher at Elena Christian.
The novice students could be seen stilt dancing very well in costumes from past parades of old time jumbies in dresses or modern day pants.
"The kids and parents have done a good job in the short time they have been organized," said Calderon. The Mocko Jumbie Guardians of Culture also stilt-danced for the crowd.
Some of the groups have participated in the parade for years and their performance and organization shows.
The St. Croix Majorettes marched as they have for the past 35 years, said Verna Dowling, one of the original majorettes and parade coordinator.
"This performance is dedicated to our founder and acting director Cielo Maldonado," Dowling said, as the girls strutted their stuff in royal blue and white satin majorette uniforms of traditional jackets, skirts and white drum major caps.
Sylvia Felix from Christiansted said she has been watching the parades for around 40 years.
"The parade is getting much better organized and it's nice to see more schools participating," said Felix.
A couple of schools had nature as the theme this year.
There were 35 students in kindergarten through sixth grade from Evelyn Williams Elementary School dressed as flowers with the theme "Opens de Road With ah Cultural Garden." The youngsters had on bright green satin shorts and tops with huge red and yellow flowers framing their faces. Alfredo Elementary students were dressed as beautiful orange, blue and green butterflies with wings trimmed in marabou feathers and antennae headbands with the theme of "The Wonderful World of Butterflies."
"This is a day to come out and have fun," said Adriane Sanes, a butterfly. Another butterfly, Dorcas Ramos, said the parade is a good experience for kids.
"The parade brings out quality kids dancing," said Ramos.
Ricardo Richards and Lew Muckle Elementary Pan groups as well as the Rising Stars and the St. Croix Central High School Steel Orchestra performed for the crowds lining the parade route that began at Markoe school and ended near Buddhoe Park. There were DJs, the UMB Soldiers and Rupshun Bands providing music from gigantic speakers on trucks. Some younger viewers were seen covering their ears because of the volume of the music.
The sidewalks were lined with people sitting on folding chairs sometimes three deep under the galleries of buildings. Buddhoe Park near the end of the route and the surrounding area was a popular viewing area where people set up tents, had refreshments and, as usual for more than 50 years now, were having fun watching the parade.
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