Cruz Bay streets came alive with color on Monday, July 5, as St. John Festival celebrations wrapped up with the annual festival parade.
Chester “Mighty Groover” Brady led the parade as only he could, decked out in full madras. Brady eschewed the parade marshal perk of a car to carry him through the parade route in favor of his own homemade cardboard cutout car, decorated in red and announcing his “Grand Parade Marshal” status.
Virgin Islands royalty led the parade behind Brady, smiling brightly and waving happily to the crowd. St. John Festival Queen Shante Monsanto-Weeks was radiant riding atop her car, and Queen contestants Abigail Hyndman, JahVena
Nisbett and Nanyamka Cagan greeted the crowd from their car.
St. John Princess Destini Garcia, decked out in her finest princess garb, shared a car with Princess contestants JahNyah Dalmida-McCain and Tashiya King.
Other royalty, including Miss St. Croix Marcellina Ventura, Miss Universe USVI Janeisha John and Miss Virgin Islands Shayla Solomon looked regal as they represented their titles in the St. John Festival parade.
The festivities quickly turned political with the AARP’s St. John Chapter, decked out in bright red AARP t-shirts. The group’s members passed out fans to the crowd, printed with information on “how the new health care law can benefit you.”
The Middle Age Majorettes, wearing their traditional bikini body t-shirts, also had a serious message for the crowd.
Their theme this year was, “Go MAD,” with MAD standing for “Marching Against Disease.” The majorettes, nearly half of whom are cancer survivors, urged the crowd to get screened for cancer.
There was no shortage of young majorettes, including the Charming Twirler Majorettes out of St. Thomas, decked out in bright pink and green costumes with festive feather headdresses.
Giudad de Amor — translation: Love City — gave the parade a Latin flair, dancing to the instruction of Liz Putnam.
We n Dem Youths showed youthful exuberance as they danced and jumped in their grass skirts and straw hats to the sounds of their live band. The troupe’s mocko jumbies also wowed the crowd.
The V.I. Police Department’s Marching Cougar troupe, with live music by the JDPP Jammerz, exhibited their unique theme of “Class in Session,” its members wearing customized school uniforms adorned with sequins, and some wearing decorative knee-high socks.
St. John Brewers hydrated the crowd with free samples of their local beers, and tossed out beads to the waiting hands of parade-goers.
After finishing his parade marshal duties, Mighty Groover reappeared in the lineup in his traditional solo entry, this time honoring Collins Wesselhoft, Samuel Lawrence and Michael Coggins with “A Cultural and Festive Musicians Banquet.”
The heat, and even spotty showers and a brief downpour, didn’t stop hundreds of people from lining the streets to take in the festivities, including the Connells and their five children. The couple, who live outside of Philadelphia, have traveled to St. John for the past several years but have always missed the parade.
“We’re excited to see the culture and the street life,” said John Connell.
The parade was nothing new for St. Thomian Ronnie Lockhart, who always comes to St. John to partake in the festivities.
“I’ve been coming for 25 to 30 years, and I’ve only missed one year,” said Lockhart. “It’s a time to relax and have a good time. Plus you have good food here.”
The skies cleared in the early evening, paving the way for a spectacular fireworks show. Cruz Bay beach was lined with families and other event-goers, who watched as fireworks were launched from a barge in the harbor for nearly 15 minutes, officially closing out this year’s St. John Festival.