/On De Road
Jouvert - Jouvert is a combination of two French words "Jou" and "Vert" (day and open respectively in English). This is an event in Carnival which takes place at the" beginning of the day" or at dawn when revelers dance in the streets. Originally, the people of the Caribbean, including the Virgin Islands, began many of their festivals dating back to slavery with an early morning "tramp". This time of the day was not only convenient for climatic reasons (since it is the coolest part of day), but the revelers had to journey on foot from outlying "country" regions. This allowed them to have a "good time" and get back home for the evening.
Originally, Jouvert began around 4:00am, but in recent times, to ensure that the best security is provided, it starts at sunrise and can last up to 12:00 noon. Of course without Jouvert, there is no Carnival and to get the fullest thrill of it, you have to be part of it.
When Carnival was "revived" in 1952, it was the sweet music of the "Duke of Iron" and the other revelers coming from the hills that overcast morning which started the festivities. Jouvert takes place the Thursday morning which is the day before the Children's Parade. Jouvert is in fact the Carnival event where the spectators of all the other events can become participants. Many see it as an occasion where they can "perform" on the "waterfront" to the sweet sounds of the latest tunes vying for "Road March of Carnival". Formerly the tunes were provided mainly by Trinidad calypsonians. However, in recent years, the Road March has been won only by local performers, the most prolific of which was Nicholas "Daddy" Friday and the Jam Band. Scratch - Bands and Steel- bands were once used to provide the music along with "iron bands" which consists of any type of metal that could make a noise (sound) and keep a rhythm. In recent years, these have given way to huge "trailers" pulled by "tractors" and outfitted with earth shaking sophisticated sound systems for soca bands playing "live" music.
Senior Citizens’ Quelbe Tramp - There is an event during Virgin Islands Carnival that is available for every age group. That statement may sound familiar, but it is so true as evidenced by the Pre-Teen Tramp and the Senior Citizen’s Quelbe Tramp. As with the Pre-Teen Tramp, this tramp starts at the Market Square but ends in the Adult Village. It is designated for Senior Citizens, 65 yrs and older, but citizens of all ages end up participating and enjoying the sweet sounds of the fungi band. Many musicians, both old and young, as well as non musicians, participate in the makeshift bands that provide the music for these tramps. The senior and not so senior citizens enjoy these tramps immensely, and for some, this is the only chance they get to Roas-A-Time and enjoy the Bachannal!
Cultural Night - This is truly a spectacle of color and it’s the largest Carnival event. Glittering, dazzling and sparkling cannot adequately describe Virgin Islands Carnival Adult Parade. The Grand Marshall leads the way, followed by the reigning Virgin Islands Carnival Queen and her Court, Prince & Princess, other royalty, Majorettes, Clowns, Indians, Mocko Jumbies, Zulus, individuals as characters, Troupes, Floupes, and Floats. Troupes and bands come from St. John, St. Croix, neighboring Caribbean islands and the United States to participate in this grand festival. Music permeates the air as steelbands, brass and non-brass bands, and DJs accompany parade participants, playing the latest calypso tunes that are vying for the Road March title. With magnificent costumes of all styles and sizes, the revelers dance their way from the Western Cemetery, proceed up Main Street and end at the Lionel Roberts Stadium.
The thousands of spectators lining the parade route provide the perfect backdrop with their colorful outfits, hats and umbrellas cheering for their favorite troupes, friends and family members who participate in the parade. Be prepared to spend the entire day as the parade begins at 10:00am and goes well into the evening due to the large number of participants and performances. As the late Nicholas “Daddy” Friday and Jam Band sang, “nothing is more fabulous than Carnival in St. Thomas.” There is absolutely nothing more fabulous than the Virgin Islands Carnival Adult Parade.
Water Sports - St. Thomas along with the other Virgin Islands is a group of small islands washed on the northern and eastern sides by the Atlantic Ocean. The southern and western shores are washed by the Caribbean Sea. Since the Carnival lasts approximately four weeks, it was only a matter of time before a people whose lives are entwined with the sea, found a way to include it in their festivities. Originally, Watersports was more for Jouvert fun and games (grease pole) by the most avid of sea lovers. There were events such as “bateau” (homemade boats) and canoes. Soon the sport became more organized and events were placed in categories. This activity which takes place the Sunday of the last week of Carnival is very popular.
The entire waterfront apron is filled with spectators with hardly any room to walk. The advent of “power” boats, racing boats and Jet Ski racers from various islands, including the B.V.I and Puerto Rico, lends to the excitement. The air is filled with music, the smell of local foods, the whine and rumble of motors and the cheer of the crowds. This is another event which adds to the luster and intrigue of one of the world’s premier festivals. Come and be a part of it, and realize how modest this brief description is of this extravaganza on Veteran’s Drive. See you there!