2024 Kids Night Out: Best Dressed Doll and Toddlers Derby Competition

From left, Ann F. Boschulte, Brad Dudley Jr., and Brenda-Rose Boschulte show off their local heritage with creative costumes. (Photo courtesy Rudy LaPlace, Divisions of Festivals)

The Division of Festivals ignited excitement at Malvern’s Melodic Greenhouse Carnival Village with the 2024 Kids Night Out. This vibrant event attracted a large audience and featured 40 energetic toddlers and eight creatively dressed dolls, celebrating local heritage and the creativity of the community’s youth.

The Best Dressed Doll competition was a major highlight, with contestants across various age groups showcasing elaborate costumes.

Brad Dudley Jr. impressed everyone in the under-two category by embracing carnival culture and honoring this year’s special guest, Malvern Gumbs. His outfit featured local madras fabric and musical elements reflecting Gumbs’ talent, all crafted from recycled materials. His costume also featured a chest plate with illustrations of a horn and trumpet, nodding to Gumbs’ talents as a trumpeter and vocalist.

Brad Dudley Jr. and his Mom, Chanina Ruan-Dudley celebrate his win in front of the crowd. (Photo courtesy Rudy LaPlace, Divisions of Festivals)

The theme showcases Dudley’s personality and interests: a big truck that counts, sings phonetically, and dances to its beat with 3D illustrations of dancing people, Spectrum band members, and a moko jumbie alongside parade flags and glitter tassels. Homemade from recycled materials like cardboard and plastic by Dudley’s family and community, this presentation is both a creative expression and a call to preserve the natural beauty of the Virgin Islands and reflects the community’s dedication to its culture and environment, inviting all to join in the celebration and support the local youth.

Brenda-Rose Boschulte, in the two to three age group, charmed the crowd as “Baby Shark” with a costume full of sea creatures, highlighting creativity and environmental awareness. Costume designer Ashayla D. Haile crafted an intricate presentation for Boschulte, portraying her as “Baby Shark” on a guided tour through pristine waters for a family reunion during Carnival.

Brenda-Rose Boschulte moves around on stage as an underwater princess. (Photo courtesy Rudy LaPlace, Divisions of Festivals)

Describing the construction as challenging due to its many moving parts, Haile aimed to transform Boschulte into an underwater princess, shining amidst the carnival festivities. The costume featured handcrafted figures of turtles, snails, and clams, all made from recycled cardboard boxes, highlighting Haile’s creative use of sustainable materials to bring the aquatic theme to life.

For ages three to five, Ysabel Douglas captured the win with her costume depicting a traditional market square woman transformed into a safari tour guide doll. Adorned in the U.S. Virgin Islands’ traditional gingham fabric, her outfit featured vibrant colors of yellow, pink, light blue, and red, with ruffles embellishing the doll’s frame. This imaginative costume, designed and created by Jamal Drummond and airbrushed by Worm of St. Thomas, not only embodied the festive spirit of the Carnival but also guided all to the market square, welcoming tourists, locals, and travelers alike to witness the rich history that St. Thomas has to offer.

Ysabel Douglas struts her traditional market square woman gown as the crowd cheers her on. (Photo courtesy Rudy LaPlace, Divisions of Festivals)

In the five to seven age group, Ann Boschulte won with her “Cultural Doll” costume, blending traditional and modern styles. Her outfit included a Madras ball gown with a sparkling overlay, adding another title as she prepares for her next competition as a Georgia State Finalist, after winning the Sunburst Beauty Pageant in Savannah, Georgia. Created by local talents Needy Bartlette, Worm, and William “Champagne” Chandler, the outfit used traditional madras fabric, celebrating local culture. Boschulte’s ensemble beautifully showcased creativity and pride in local traditions, making it a highlight of the carnival.

Ann F. Boschulte excites the crowd with her beautifully crafted Madras gown. (Photo courtesy Rudy LaPlace, Divisions of Festivals)

The Toddlers Derby added fun and energy, with young participants displaying their speed and power while enjoying themselves. Keezi J. Pinney, the event coordinator, praised the planning committee, participants, judges, attendees, and sponsors for contributing to the success of the event. She highlighted the range of crowd activities, including the three-legged race, egg spoon race, Simon Says, and hand games like Miss Mary Mack and Four White Horses, as well as hula hoops, refreshments, and a face painting station, all of which provided non-stop entertainment for attendees of all ages.

Toddlers get ready for derby race. (Photo courtesy Rudy LaPlace, Divisions of Festivals)
Toddlers are off to the races! (Photo courtesy Rudy LaPlace, Divisions of Festivals)

Prizes for the participants were generously provided by H2Q Cosmetic and Caribbean Kisses. The entertainment was equally thrilling, with performances by Junior Calypsonian Prince Rainy, solo twirler Kaylee Brady, the ShowStoppers Dance Group, and the Elite Dynasty Dancers. Each performance brought dynamic routines and rhythmic beats to the stage, enhancing the festive atmosphere of the event.

Prince Rainy gets the crowd pumped up with the sounds of Carnival. (Photo courtesy Rudy LaPlace, Divisions of Festivals)
Dynasty Dancers entertain the crowd with their unique dance skills. (Photo courtesy Rudy LaPlace, Divisions of Festivals)

Thanks to support from local sponsors, including the Division of Maternal Child Health and Coral World Ocean Park, the event was a huge success, creating memorable moments and promoting the pride and joy of the community.