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Black Empire’s “End of the Road” Secures Road March Title, Guava Tart Wins People’s Choice Award

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The dynamic Blackest of Black Empire. Image Courtesy of V.I. Consortium

The vibrant and culturally rich Crucian Christmas Festival Parade of 2023-2024 has officially declared its winners, showcasing the immense talent and competitive spirit of the participants.

In the Children’s Parade Troupe (under 50 members), TSK Children Troupe emerged as the champions, with CMC Arts and Lights on Connecting taking the first and second runner-up spots, respectively. For larger troupes with over 50 members, Juanita Gardine School triumphed, and Pearl B. Larsen School followed as the first runner-up.

Individual performances in the Children’s Parade didn’t go unnoticed. “An Ode to My Ancestors” bagged the win in the individual category. The St. Croix Majorettes scooped the first place in both the Children’s Parade Majorette and Moko Jumbies segments, while 175 Emancipation secured the Moko Jumbies title. The Rising Stars Steel Orchestra was lauded as the Children’s Parade Steel Pan winner.

The Adult Parade featured a diverse range of winners across different categories. Gentleman of Jones clinched the Floupe title for groups under 100, followed by Reveling Masqueraders. In the Adult Troupe (under 100 members) category, TSK took the top spot, ahead of Gallows Barians and Caribbean Revelers. The St. Croix Majorettes and Guardians of Culture claimed victories in the Adult Majorette and Adult Moko Jumbies categories, respectively.

In the Adult Parade Steel Pan competition, the Rising Stars Steel Orchestra repeated their winning streak. The coveted Road March title was awarded to Black Empire for their electrifying performance of “End of the Road.”

Adding to the list of accolades, Guava Tart received the USVI Festivals & Viya’s People’s Choice Award for their remarkable contribution to the festival’s success.

This announcement wraps up the competitive aspect of the festival, highlighting the diverse and imaginative talents of the participants. Their contributions have significantly enriched the cultural landscape of the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Department of Tourism and the Division of Festivals extend heartfelt congratulations to all the winners and participants for making this parade season a resounding success.

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71st Annual Crucian Christmas Festival: A Record-Breaking Celebration of Culture

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The Virgin Islands Department of Tourism, in a collaborative effort with the Division of Festivals, recently wrapped up the 71st edition of the Crucian Christmas Festival. This event, a highlight on St. Croix’s calendar, spanned twelve days starting December 26, immersing attendees in the island’s vibrant cultural heritage.

The festival kicked off in Frederiksted Village, showcasing an array of events. Highlights included the Prince, Princess, Dutch, and Duchess Show, the Queen Pageant, and the Soca Monarch competition. A new addition this year was the Kid Ville event, specifically designed for young attendees to have their own night of celebration.

December 29 marked the start of the International Cultural Night, featuring seven nights of free concerts. The lineup brought together local and international artists such as Cool Session, Charlie Aponte, and Destra. The festival also introduced the much-anticipated ‘war of tarts’ at the annual Food Fair on Frederiksted Pier, with guava emerging as the favored flavor.

Record-breaking attendance was noted during the J’ouvert, Children’s and Adults Parades, a testament to the festival’s growing popularity. Participants showcased the Caribbean heritage of the island with vibrant costumes, music, and dance.

Joseph Boschulte, Commissioner of the Department of Tourism, lauded the festival’s success and community involvement. He commended the Division of Festivals for elevating the event, making it a benchmark for cultural celebrations.

The festival concluded with a spectacular fireworks display and Uber Soca Night at Frederiksted Village. International AfroBeats star Davido and Soca Performer of the Year Mr. Killa headlined the closing event.

Ian Turnbull, Director of Festivals, praised the festival’s showcase of culture, from the pageantry to the culinary delights.

The Department of Tourism and Division of Festivals thanked partner agencies, including the V.I. Police Department, the V.I. Department of Public Works, and others, for their support in ensuring a safe and memorable festival experience.

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Vibrant Children’s Parade Charms Leaders and Public at St. Croix Christmas Festival

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The St. Croix Crucian Christmas Festival’s Children’s Parade recently brought a vibrant spectacle to the streets, marked by a kaleidoscope of music, dance, moko jumbies, and youthful royalty, receiving high praise from organizers and leaders across the territory.

Grand Marshall Michelle Smith, a celebrated young local athlete, inaugurated the parade, which showcased a variety of school and community groups. These troupes captivated onlookers, including key figures from the territorial government. Governor Albert Bryan Jr., speaking with the Consortium, expressed delight at the strong participation in the festival’s various events, including concerts and competitions.

Senator Donna Frett-Gregory lauded the impressive turnout and commended the dedication of the participating children. Senator Novelle Francis Jr. extended gratitude to the Division of Festivals and the V.I. Police Department for ensuring the festival’s safety and success.

The procession was further embellished by festival royalty, including monarchs from numerous elementary and high schools, with representatives from St. Thomas. Junior Miss of the Festival, 16-year-old Alayah Watley, plans to leverage her title to promote American Sign Language in St. Croix through her “Read Between the Signs” initiative.

From the audience, Lieutenant Governor Tregenza Roach shared his enthusiasm with the Consortium, praising the high energy of the festival and acknowledging the parade’s contributors for preserving these cultural traditions. He particularly celebrated the troupe leaders and participants for their inspirational roles.

Highlighting the event were the St. Croix Majorettes, recently recognized by the V.I. Legislature and celebrating their 50th anniversary. Carol Burke, chair of the territorial Emancipation Committee, represented a St. Thomas troupe commemorating the 175th anniversary of emancipation. She called for increased parental involvement and a return to family-centric community values.

Concluding on Saturday with the Adults Parade and the final Village night, the festival, as described by Lieutenant Governor Roach, offers a platform for Crucians to demonstrate their rich talents, character, and culture to the world, transcending the territory’s modest size.

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Frederiksted Celebrates 71st J’Ouvert with Vibrant Festivities and Robust Security

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As dawn broke over Frederiksted on Thursday, the town was transformed into a vibrant hub of cultural celebration, marking the 71st year of J’Ouvert, a key event in the Crucian Christmas Festival. Throngs of people, including residents and visitors from across the Virgin Islands, the Caribbean, and the mainland United States, converged on the streets to partake in the festivities.

Ian Turnbull, Director of the Division of Festivals, was among the attendees captured by Consortium cameras. He expressed high praise for the event, remarking, “We’re looking good. We’re looking really good.” Turnbull, who brought his young daughter to the event, emphasized his desire to immerse her in the rich cultural experience of J’Ouvert.

This year’s J’Ouvert festivities culminated without any significant disturbances, thanks in part to meticulous planning and coordination by the Virgin Islands Police Department (VIPD). Their proactive approach ensured a secure environment for all participants. “We made extensive preparations to guarantee a safe and enjoyable event for everyone,” the VIPD stated in an official release.

St. Croix Police Chief Sean Santos lauded the peaceful proceedings. “It was heartening to witness everyone reveling in the Jouvert without major issues. We extend our gratitude to all participants for contributing to a successful event and look forward to the remaining festival season. I also want to acknowledge the unwavering dedication and service of our officers,” Chief Santos commented.

The VIPD addressed a minor incident involving a physical altercation between two individuals and reported that five people received medical attention due to dehydration and excessive alcohol intake. These were isolated cases in an otherwise smoothly conducted event.

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