VIRGIN ISLANDS CARNIVAL : BY ANY MEANS…

(Originally published at OnePaper.com)
Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas; May 1, 2005: After much in the way of controversy over financial accountability, the Virgin Islands Carnival Committee has wrapped up yet another fine celebration. The community awaits financial disclosures demanded by the V.I. government, with Senator Adlah “Foncie” Donastorg leading the charge.

At one time, it appeared that the conflict would result in the cessation of preparatory activities, resulting in no Carnival at all. The economic, social and cultural impact of such a result would have been devastating for many. While many dispute the $65M figure quoted as the benefit to the community’s coffers, there is no doubt that the trail of cash generated by Carnival activities on all 3 main U.S. Virgin Islands, leads from the vendor to the retail outlet to the wholesaler to the government in the form of gross receipts and income taxes.

There was even talk of assigning the development and planning of Carnival to a government agency, with the Department of Tourism cited. Considering the over 100 persons who volunteer to head or support the various sub-committees of the V.I. Carnival Committee, this blogger is not certain that in our financial straits we could afford to compensate the kind of man-hours necessary to pull it off.

Other organizations who’ve been given funds by the V.I. Government have not been the subject of such scrutiny, even in the face of dissatisfied ticket holders and events that delivered less than promised. Why the V.I. Carnival Committee? If anything, there should be clearly-drawn stipulations to any grant or monetary infusion that is fueled by the tax-payers as well as proper redress for consumers who feel short-changed. The government would serve us well by implementing such criteria.

All that being said, the world was treated to a scaled-down Carnival 2005, as the fund allotment had been reduced due to budgetary problems afflicting many areas of our local government.

In the meantime, comprehensive Carnival wrapups are already online at The St. Thomas Source and The Virgin Islands Daily News. The Virgin Islands Carnival Committee has revamped its web presence with a hipper, splashier design at VICarnival.com.
St. Croix’s King Spade is V.I. Monarch for 2005
Highlights of the celebration? The props given to our local calypsonians, from the SRO Bwoy ah Bwoy, Big Man ah Big Man and Imagi Soca Brigade calypso tents, to naming the 2005 Carnival Village Calypsonians’ Ville, the keepers of the art form had the support of the community as well as the Carnival Committee. And, it’s high time!

2005 V.I. Calypso Monarch (with nuf St. Croix belts on his wall) King Spade, Crucian Kaisonian extraordinaire kicked it up with the very best of them, including fellow St. Croix artistes Mighty Pat and King Generic, the returning King Mose-I, King Kang F’Plen-Tae, and the delightful Super T from St. John. This dog hunted, bagged and dressed it for supper, y’all… the crowd went mad for his I Too Old for Dat, a sardonic whoops upside the head for all who would take the low road in the quest for the crown.

All Hail Queen K’misha the First!
Never one for pageants, I must also give daps to Queen K’misha Counts I on capturing the Carnival Queen title. The young lady aptly demonstrated all of the poise, talent and pulchritude that have gained her numerous distinctions. She handily nipped the local title of Hal Jackson’s Talented Teen, parlaying her experience into a fourth placing in the international outing. Ms. Counts has proven to be a gracious, purposeful representative of the best of the Virgin Islands’ future.

Radio was hot with local tunes, thanks to the many bands, individuals and producers who gave us their best creative. Tops in this writer’s book: perennial (and 2005!) V.I. Road March champs, Jam Band, 5-Time local monarch Whadabli, One Blood International, Imagi, the Starlites’ Malvern Gumbs, St. John’s Cool Session Brass, and beat creator Daddy Jones’ island showcase And the Beat Goes On featuring local vocal stars and more, like Pat Ragguette, Xpress Band’s Mean Dean, and Figgy. Another empresario, Country, produced the bountiful V.I. Soca/Carnival 2K5, featuring 2004 V.I. Calypso King Brother Mudada, the newly-trim WVJZ personality D.J. Pops, and former Imagi frontman General Val, among others. The superproducers should continue this trend, giving light to artistes and joy to their fans. Crucian groups Xpress, Digital and Xtaushun also showed well on bands of all frequencies. There are actually too many great offerings to mention here, so hie yourself to your favorite Caribbean music emporium!

A Fun Time at deh Fete
The airwaves were crackling with everything from conscious Kaiso to frenetic Danse-lypso from the U.S. Virgin Islands. The British Virgin Islands’ Lashing Dogs hugged the curves with Supposin’… 105 Jamz, Kiss FM, Lucky 13… they all had to slide down the bench a bit for K-Zee… ’cause if you were lucky, you were able to sneak in a taste of Supreme Radio, a freestyle source of mas. The hot spot was with us until it was time to move on to the ABC islands and the universe with its creator.

A new Calypsonian broke onto the field, one Coach, whose surprise hit, Alma had audiences screaming with delight. He did not record this year; perhaps someone will pluck him up on the next go ’round.

The parades had fewer entries and not quite as many spectators as in years past, and the schedule went on a low-carb diet… but we found ourselves drowning in the sweetness of mas. Because like the Jam Band sings, “Carnival Can’t Done” in the hearts of the residents and anyone who has ever been touched by its tempting finger. Be there, next year!