The St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Christiansted Saturday, the 47th annual incarnation of the event, was officially the biggest ever, and unofficially even bigger than that.
Thousands of green-clad revelers lined the streets of Christiansted; whether they were locals, Continentals or Europeans on a visit, they were prepared to be Irish for the day.
Officially, the parade had 33 entries, according to organizer Stan Joines, one more entry than last year, and up 10 from just a couple of years ago. However, Joines was doing the official count as the entries turned up Company Street, at the National Park Steeple Building, but when the parade was coming back down toward Fort Christianvaern on King Street, the parade had gained a few unofficial entries.
The parade started on time, at 11 a.m., and was just finishing at 1:30 p.m. Of course, the parade just marks the beginning of the party. Booths selling drinks and local foods lined King Street starting at Florence Williams Library, past Government House, on down to the National Park Services Scale House.
The length of the parade enabled viewers in the park in front of Fort Christianvaern a rare opportunity – they could see a parade going in two directions. The front of the parade had already wound its way down King Street and was heading out Hospital Street while the end of the parade was still coming down Hospital Street.
Though the parade might have been relatively subdued to previous years – no one was squirting Super Soakers full of beer at the crowd, and no one was almost naked – doesn’t mean there were not funny big hats, funny little hats, green lipstick, extravagantly painted faces and a mocko jumbie with a drink in each hand. The music was not subdued either – one truckload of dancers cavorted to the Village People’s “YMCA” while the Gentlemen of Jones gave out free beers to the accompaniment of “Happy” by Pharrel Williams.
But there was more an air of family entertainment this year. And once again, the Central High School Band was one of the highlights of the entertainment.
The family aspect was illustrated by Garilyn Danielle Garcia. She had watched the parade a few times, but this year she came to see and support her two daughters twirling with the St. Croix Majorettes. Khadisha Goodridge, her 14-year-old, said she really enjoyed taking part in the parade for the first time. Marilett Garcia, her 10-year-old, said, “It was a lot of fun and a good experience.”
The growth of parade might also be contributed to the economy of the island.
Carrel Shillingford, in the Trini Revelers Troupe, has been in the parade for several years. She said the parade is a great community event where everybody gets together to have fun.
“I love it,” Shillingford said. “It’s a lot of fun. And it shows the diversity of St. Croix.”
She said she works for Budget car rental and she could attest to the fact that there were a lot of visitors on St. Croix that came for the parade.
Some of the groups participating in the parade were: Trini Revelers, Attorney Lydia Moolenaar Fairy Kingdom Rising, Metallic Muscle, Johns Hobby Shop and Gokarts, Domino Club, Thali Indian Restaurant, Rhythms at Rainbow Beach, Claude O. Marko Elementary School, St. Croix Central High School Caribs and St. Croix Educational Complex Barracudas, and Gentlemen of Jones.