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The Meaning Behind St. John’s July 4th Festivities

The Freedom statue is located in Cruz Bay, in the park across from the ferry dock.

The Fourth of July is a day of nonstop celebration on St. John. It typically begins with j’ouvert – a street party that begins at daybreak – although j’ouvert was held a few days early this year. So this year, the festivities will begin with the celebration parade, which will start around 11 a.m. in Cruz Bay. Fireworks go off just beyond Cruz Bay harbor at 9 p.m. and music will continue in the Village well past midnight.

The Fourth of July is a big deal on St. John, but the reason it is celebrated in such grand fashion is so much different than why it’s celebrated in the United States.

The enslaved people, who were brought to the island by the Danes who controlled St. John from 1718 through 1917, were finally freed on July 3, 1848, and word of emancipation first reached St. John on July 4, 1848.

J’ouvert celebrates the first sunrise of freedom, which is why it is typically held at daybreak on July 4th. However, this year was celebrated a few days earlier on July 1st.

St. John’s 2023 J’ouvert celebration – Image credit: USVI Festivals

Captain Ingjald Mourier was the owner of the Lameshur plantation in 1848. He arrived in Cruz Bay from St. Thomas to alert everyone about the pronouncement of Emancipation. He quickly informed Police Master Carl Hanshell of the news, and the pair set off on horseback to inform people across the island. The enslaved population on Estate Adrian – which is about three miles up Centerline Road – were the first to learn of their newfound freedom.

So please join us all in celebrating this momentous event. If you are unable to be on island, you can check out some of the island’s webcams to see the celebration. View them at You may be able to catch some of the fireworks on St. John Spice’s Spice Cam.

Tonight’s & Tomorrow’s Music Schedule

Image credit: USVI Festivals

Parade Details

The parade is scheduled to start at 11 a.m. Think island time, my friends. It will start behind the ballfield in Cruz Bay. It continues in front of Mongoose Junction and toward Cap’s Place and the Post Office. It takes a right at the Post Office and goes toward the ferry dock. It then takes a left up the one-way past Connections. It will then continue up the hill past Woody’s, Quiet Mon and Extra Virgin until it reaches the roundabout.

Fireworks Information

The fireworks are usually set up from one of the barges in front of Cruz Bay harbor. Cruz Bay beach is a great spot to watch them. The Cruz Bay overlook is too. Cruz Bay Watersports is having a sunset fireworks sail, and The Terrace is having a streetside party in addition to a special four course prix fixe menu. I’m sure there are other fun things going on too!

Enjoy everyone! Happy Festival! And Happy Fourth of July! Stay safe!

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