The first Carnival in St. Thomas was on February 14, 1912 and the second in 1914 – both while the islands were part of the Danish West Indies. The early Carnival celebrations included activities that are part of current Carnivals like bands, Carnival queen, special games and a parade. After 1914 it would be 38 years before there was another Carnival on St. Thomas. During this time music, masquerading and dancing continued on special days, holidays and other events. Some of these traditions began to lose some ground as they competed with new trends brought to the island by immigration and travel. In 1952 a radio personality named Ron De Lugo was reminiscing about festival traditions. De Lugo sent out a call that there should be a Carnival. Some people in the community did not think it was a good idea, the population was very aware of class distinctions and there wasn’t much social life between them. De Lugo many years later in an interview noted that on Carnival parade day he feared that no one would show up. But people did show up, and Carnival has been going annually ever since. Over the years additional elements have been added. It is currently a three week event taking place in April and is called V.I. Carnival.
St. Thomas Adults Parade 2012
St. Croix’s Carnival is called the Crucian Christmas Festival and it became an annual event in 1952 with the revival of old holiday traditions transformed into modern Carnival. Dating back at least to the early-1800s enslaved Africans on St. Croix were allowed to celebrate Christmas and New Years. The celebrations on plantations included drumming, singing and dancing. In the main towns it involved parading through the streets of town singing, dancing and playing drums; often stopping door to door for rum and wine. Masquerading was popular during Christmas and other holidays including Easter and Whit Monday. These traditions continued into the early 1900s but saw some decline. Social events kept music traditions and dances like the quadrille, lancers and bomboula alive. The Carnival festival collected traditions into one big event with a focus on the former holiday celebrations. The event has become more and more organized each year and now held in the town of Fredricksted from late December to early January.
Crucian Festival Parade
Carnival in St. John is a combination of celebrating the traditions of carnival with emancipation and independence. A month long event; festivities include musical venues, the village, food fair, parades and fireworks. St. John Carnival occurs in late June and traditionally culminates on July 4th with a 4th of July Carnival parade. Although St. John has a smaller population then it's sister islands it certainly comes to life for Carnival. More specifically Cruz Bay comes to life as all the events are centered in the Cruz Bay area. Ferries making trips between St. Thomas and St. John are usually filled as Carnival revelers head over for special events like the opening of the village and the parade.