Pan-O-Rama Kicks off Festival Season on STJ

Pan in Motion leads the final tramp in the street during Pan-O-Rama.
Pan in Motion leads the final tramp in the street during Pan-O-Rama.
The Love City Pan Dragons performs in honor of “Mac” O’Donnell, the father of two of the band’s members.
The Love City Pan Dragons performs in honor of “Mac” O’Donnell, the father of two of the band’s members.

Seven bands performed Saturday in the Franklin Powell Park in the 2019 Pan-O-Rama, the kickoff event of the St. John Festival.

Residents and visitors of St. John had the opportunity to enjoy the talent of the Bertha C. Boschulte Burning Blazers, the St. Thomas Allstars Steel Orchestra, the Ulla F. Muller Panatics, the Love City Pan Dragons, the Rising Stars Youth Steel Orchestras of St. Thomas and St. Croix, and Pan in Motion.

Pan-O-Rama featured the first performance on St. John for the St. Croix Rising Stars Youth Steel Orchestra, and also gave attendees the opportunity to meet the five young women and one young man that make up the 2019 St. John Festival Royalty.

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Senator at Large Steven Payne Sr. served as the master of ceremonies.

Several of the groups who performed are longtime participants of St. John’s Pan-O-Rama.

“As long as there is a Pan-O-Rama and we have able bodies, we will be here,” said Gerda D. Sebastien, president of the St. Thomas Allstars Steel Orchestra. ”Some people are forgetting steel pan. You should always keep steel pan in your repertoire because once you have the basics you can always fall back in.”

The St. Thomas Allstars Steel Orchestra has been in existence since 1992 and has had multiple members leave and return throughout its 27 years.

The Ulla F. Muller Panatics will celebrate their 20th anniversary this September. Its members range from ages 7-11, and many of them stay with the band for about four years. The band depends on fundraising for all expenses, including any major travel plans they have in the works.

“We like to have the band travel even though it is an expensive endeavor,” said coordinator Francis Wenner. In regards to Pan-O-Rama she said, “I hope that all the kids have fun today and that people come out to see their talent.”

St. Croix Rising Stars Youth Steel Orchestra director Natasha Williams-Modeste presents an appreciation award to St. John Festival Committee members Alecia Wells, Liston “Matey” Sewer, and Leona Smith
St. Croix Rising Stars Youth Steel Orchestra director Natasha Williams-Modeste presents an appreciation award to St. John Festival Committee members Alecia Wells, Liston “Matey” Sewer, and Leona Smith

St. John’s own Love City Pan Dragons engaged in some fundraising of their own. All donations and proceeds made from shirt sales were collected for the benefit of the family of “Mac” O’Donnell. O’Donnell died May 28, and two of his children are members of the band.

Not all participating bands were familiar faces at Pan-O-Rama. The St. John Festival Committee extended an invitation to the Rising Stars Youth Steel Orchestra from St. Croix, and they brought 14 of their 30 members to perform.

The group’s song list contained a range of genres including reggae, soca, gospel, R&B, and disco. The band’s director, Natasha Williams-Modeste, attributed the success of the band to the dedication and hard work of the students, pretrial officer Jaynilah Williams, and instructors Deval Stevens, Lawrence Christian, and Keithlyn Bailey.

Williams-Modeste presented a token of appreciation to the St. John Festival Committee following the band’s performance.

“I want to thank the committee for sponsoring us, we greatly appreciated the experience. I also want to thank the Superior Court for giving us this opportunity,” said Williams-Modeste.

Next on the 2019 St. John Festival schedule is the Royalty Pageant, set for 6 p.m. Saturday, June 22, on the site of the former Lumberyard in Cruz Bay. Vying for St. John Festival Queen are Zakiyah Gregoire and Lenisha Richards. Vying for Jr. Miss St. John Festival are Je’Nique Sylvester and Tamyra Bartlette. The St. John Festival Prince and Princess contestants are Lemuel Liburd III and Elizabeth Farrell.

Pan-O-Rama was sponsored by Global Marine Car Barge, the Department of Public Works, St. John Ice Co., Varlack Ventures, the V.I. Waste Management Authority, and the V.I. Water and Power Authority.

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