Photo Focus: Food, Fun & Fete, Carnival Village Officially Opens

St. Thomas Carnival officially kicked off with the opening of Carnival Village Monday night. Local food booths and vendors greeted Virgin Islanders and visitors who flooded the Fort Christian parking lot, ready for a night of food, fun and fete.

Gov. Albert Bryan Jr., members of the 35th Legislature and the reigning royal court officially opened Carnival Village with the cutting of the ribbon. (Photo by Michele L Weichman)
Gov. Bryan cuts the ribbon to officially kick off St. Thomas Carnival. (Photo by Michele L Weichman)

Commissioner of Education and Mistress of Ceremony Dionne Wells-Hedrington had the honor of engaging and hyping up the crowd for St. Thomas Carnival 2023.

Territorial Music Director Dionne Donadelle addresses the audience. (Photo by Michele L Weichman)

Before introductions were made, the posting of colors was performed by the Ivanna Eudora Kean High School JROTC, an 11th-grade student from Charlotte Amalie High School sang the national anthem and a third-grader from Jane E. Tuitt Elementary school sang the Virgin Islands March before the ceremony was opened in prayer.

The Ivanna Eudora Kean JROTC performs posting of colors. (Photo by Michele L Weichman)
Commissioner Boschulte and Gov. Bryan stand for the national anthem.
Third-grade student sings Virgin Islands March.
Assistant Commissioner of Tourism Alani Henneman Todman begins the ceremony with prayer.

Wells-Hedrington also introduced key players who made it possible for another year of celebrating to take place.

Commissioner of Tourism Joseph Boschulte thanks and recognizes the hard work to make 2023 St. Thomas Carnival a success. (Photo by Michele L Weichman)
The 2023 royal court was honored at the opening of Carnival Village. (Photo by Michele L Weichman)

This year’s honoree, Kelly Charleswell, also known as Pupa Kelly, was celebrated on stage for his outstanding influence on music and performance in the Virgin Islands.

Kelly “Pupa Kelly” Charleswell thanks the Carnival Committee and Virgin Islanders for the love and support he has received over the years. (Photo by Michele L Weichman)
Pupa Kelly is honored and thanked by Division of Festivals Director Ian Turnbull. (Photo by Michele L Weichman)

At the close of the ceremony, Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. greeted the crowd with thanks and well wishes for a happy and safe Carnival.

Gov. Bryan tells crowd to have a safe and fun Carnival. (Photo by Michele L Weichman)

After the ceremony, people of all ages were ready to get Carnival started as they began to dance to the music, enjoy food from one of the 32 food booths, check out the local vendors and head over to the Children’s Village to enjoy the rides.

A fur baby enjoying the music with its owner. (Photo by Michele L Weichman)
The Brooks Bar Booth was extremely popular as many people stood in line to buy food. (Photo by Michele L Weichman)
People stood in line for cotton candy, which is always a Village favorite. (Photo by Michele L Weichman)
Local vendors set up shop to sell their goods at the Carnival Village. (Photo by Michele L Weichman)
Lines began early to purchase tickets for rides. (Photo by Michele L Weichman)
Three friends chat before the ride picks up speed. (Photo by Michele L Weichman)
Carnival workers make sure that riders are buckled in safely before the ride begins. (Photo by Michele L Weichman)
The Children’s Village was filled with rides lighting up the night. (Photo by Michele L Weichman)

As nightfall came more people began to flock to the Village for the first night of entertainment and to hear the sounds of Machel Montano.

People begin to flock to the stage to listen to the sounds of Machel Montano. (Photo by Michele L Weichman)