Veterans Drive Comes Alive with Sounds of J’ouvert Morning

The sun shines on J'ouvert revelers Thursday morning on Veterans Drive on St. Thomas. (Source photo by Lara Halliday)
The sun shines on thousands of J’ouvert revelers Thursday morning on Veterans Drive on St. Thomas. (Source photo by Lara Halliday)

One of the most anticipated events of Carnival season rolled along the Charlotte Amalie waterfront Thursday morning on St. Thomas. Eleven live bands drew thousands of music fans to the 2024 J’ouvert.

Most of those who turned out came to romp along Veterans Drive; others perched along concrete walls that lined the four-lane roadway or sat on the tailgates of pickup trucks parked on the waterfront apron.

All were enjoying their morning under the watchful gaze of police and members of the National Guard. A handful of water trucks sent jets of spray into the air as the crowds danced by. More than a few outfits and hair appeared to have changed from colored dust flung into the air.

By most accounts, the J’ouvert passed uneventfully, but more than half a dozen ambulances under lights and sirens were seen weaving their way through the crowds.

“It was a crime-free, no problems, no issues, everybody-had-a-good-time, and it was done at a reasonable time,” said Kashien Hamilton. Best known by the stage name DJ Kuntry, Hamilton has worked with the Department of Tourism Division of Festivals as the Entertainment Director for the past three years.

Virgin Islands flags fly as revelers are entertained by one of 11 bands that was on hand to keep the party going. (Source photo by Lara Halliday)
Virgin Islands flags fly as one of 11 bands on hand for J’ouvert entertains the crowd. (Source photo by Lara Halliday)

Carnival veteran and 2024 Adult’s Parade Grand Marshal William Chandler — better known as Champagne — offered reserved compliments. “I am enjoying the Carnival season; however, I am aware it’s a new era. A lot has changed; it’s not like back in the day, and that’s expected. But so far, today, I have not heard any drama, so if that is the case I’m overjoyed,” Chandler said.

B Flavorz cooks up chicken and lobster tails on the grill. (Source photo by Lara Halliday)
B Flavorz offered chicken and lobster tails cooked on the grill. (Source photo by Lara Halliday)

Festivities began early in the morning with the Kaleidoscope band taking to the street. They were followed by bands from St. Croix, the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, and St. Kitts, including Insomniacs, Wet Fetters, Ace Abandon, Triple J., Uso from the Vybe Band, Exodus, and Grand Marshals.

Karnage Band from St. Thomas brought the jam to a close as a final act. Around 11 a.m. an announcer on the Karnage sound truck told the crowd that police said it was time to wrap up.

Those who spent their morning and most of their energy dancing up on Veterans Drive then made their way past Fort Christian into Carnival Village for refreshments and music from a live band on stage.

Revelers cool down under a spray of water. (Source photo by Lara Halliday)
Revelers cool down under a spray of water. (Source photo by Lara Halliday)

Along the way sat Wayne Simmonds, taking in the scene with an attentive companion. Simmonds said he felt the morning went well.

“I’m from Atlanta, my friend wanted to come down, so I’m just visiting,” he said. The visitor said he most liked being around people enjoying themselves and the excitement.

St. Thomas resident Dennis Blyden — known to his friends as Shabazz — largely agreed with Simmonds, saying he most liked, “the music, the people, the excitement and no violence.”

However, there was at least one tense moment when a crowd rushed off the roadway, rounding the corner towards Emancipation Garden. Uniformed police moved into a spot where revelers appeared to be separating two men.

Moments later, the scene seemed to regain its composure, and the J’ouvert trucks continued entertaining their fans.

J’ouvert fans approach Fort Christian as a water spray flies their way. (Source photo by Judi Shimel)