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“Utopia Carnival Cruise & Festival: A Boost to St. Thomas Carnival 2024” – Insights from VIPA Board Meeting

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The V.I. Port Authority (VIPA) Board of Governors delved deeper into the forthcoming attraction poised to amplify the festivities of St. Thomas Carnival 2024 – the arrival of the Utopia Carnival Cruise & Festival (UCCF).

Scheduled to anchor at Crown Bay during the carnival period, UCCF offers a unique fusion of land and maritime entertainment. With its maiden voyage to Crown Bay set for May 1, 2024, this marine festivity promises three thrilling days at sea before reaching St. Thomas. VIPA’s Executive Director, Carlton Dowe, elucidated the schedule in response to board member Celestino White’s inquiry. He highlighted that the renowned Norwegian Breakaway will berth in St. Thomas for a span of five nights. During this period, renowned event organizers, Glowbal Citizens Entertainment, are set to dazzle with four distinct themed soirees, each evening, with a break on Saturday, May 4.

Mr. Dowe added, “Every event planned at Crown Bay aims to conclude by roughly 8:30 p.m. This ensures that attendees can transition to enjoy our village and the carnival’s traditional festivities.”

Drawing attention to the ship’s impressive capacity, Mr. Dowe shared, “The vessel accommodates approximately 4,000 guests. The objective is to usher in these 4,000 extra visitors to our shores.” The festival’s endorsement by Governor Albert Bryan is grounded in the fact that its organizing team, a local Virgin Islands entity, perceives this as a golden chance to elevate the overall carnival experience, according to Dowe.

Addressing potential concerns about costs, Mr. Dowe assured board members of VIPA’s minimal financial obligations for this venture. He emphatically stated, “We haven’t received requests to forgo any docking charges. They inquired about the requisite fees; we provided them, and we anticipate due compensation.” Beyond routine fee collections, VIPA remains unencumbered by any supplementary security-related expenses. Mr. Dowe explained, “UCCF organizers are tasked with apprising us of the exact count of private security personnel they intend to hire. The responsibility of bearing the security expenses for this event doesn’t fall on VIPA.”

The integration of the Utopia Carnival Cruise & Festival into the St. Thomas Carnival 2024 augments not just the carnival’s allure but promises an influx of visitors, bringing economic advantages and further spotlighting the Virgin Islands’ reputation as a top-tier entertainment destination. This collaboration between UCCF and VIPA underscores the commitment to enhancing the festive experiences for both locals and visitors alike while ensuring the seamless melding of traditional and new-age festivities.

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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 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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