Monday, April 6, 2009

"Rain Don't Stop the Carnival!"

Carnival is the most exciting event on the annual Virgin Islands calendar. It starts slowly with the different pageants like, Queen Selection, and events like Junior Calypso competition and Cultural Night, but excitement builds as it moves toward the end.

And finally it's the last week and BAM! The last 7-10 days are positively insane: sleep is simply not a priority; employers are threatening employees about showing up for work; shop owners in town are making plans to shut down on certain days (some close the entire last week of the festival); stores are running out of cut-off jeans, and shorts; beauty shops are open longer hours ... it's just crazy! Good crazy.

But, before we get into what happens during Carnival, I should discuss how all this wonderful craziness began ... so let's go all the way back. The very first Virgin Islands Carnival took place in 1912. The next one took place in 1914 and unfortunately, there was a 40-year hiatus before another Carnival celebration happened in 1952. Then, it was ON! Carnival hasn't stopped since.

Because of the weather, the 1952 celebration was a real challenge. There was a deluge of rain. All the bands, the grand Marshall, the troupes were ready ... but the rain wouldn't stop. Neither would the Duke of Iron.

Trinidad Calypsonian (calypso singer), The Duke of Iron composed a song on the spot, "Rain Don't Stop the Carnival" and while singing with the accompaniment of some of the musicians, led the Gypsy troupe, the bands and everyone else down the road ... in a drenching downpour, setting the stage for future generations.

Despite the rain, Carnival was a huge success that year, and every year since it just keeps getting bigger and better.

The adventures ... and misadventures of a city slicker turned mellow islander.