ST. THOMAS — Carnival will start a little later than usual this year because of the Easter holiday, but organizers say the 59th annual bash will be as festive, vibrant and economy-boosting as ever.
Semele George submitted the winning theme — “Let Our Cultural Spirit Enliven Carnival 2011” — that will govern the nearly monthlong event. Carnival will begin April 17 with the Prince and Princess Selection show and end with the Calypso Spectakula Last Lap on May 7.
“It’s the largest annual cultural activity in the territory,” V.I. Carnival Committee Executive Director Caswil Callender said. Carnival is not only fun for local St. Thomians, it draws in people from the territory’s other islands, neighboring Caribbean nations and even the mainland, he said.
“Carnival is great for tourism,” Callender said. “There have been reports that the impact of the activities are in excess of $65 million annually.”
Carnival Village will be named “King Collins’ Musical Courtyard” in honor of Collins Wesselhoft. The trumpeter has been a member of Milo’s Kings, the longest-running band on St. Thomas, since its inception almost 54 years ago, Callender said.
The Cultural Fair will be named “Enid’s House of Delights,” in honor of Enid Donovan, Callender said.
While last year’s Carnival was marred by the lack of any male entrants to the Prince and Princess competitions, there will be no shortage of little Princes in this year’s contest, which is for children ages 6 to 12.
“We have five couples — with five little boys,” Callender said. “We are ecstatic about that.”
While some perceive Carnival to be an alcohol-fueled street party, events such as the Prince and Princess Selection Show get children involved in civic-minded activities, such as etiquette classes.
“The whole idea is to help these kids become admirable citizens in the community,” Callender said.
The April 23 Queen Pageant, which is for young women ages 16 to 21, has a similar goal, Callender said. Past participants have gone on to serve the territory as pharmacists, pediatricians, police officers, teachers and entertainers, he said.