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Why St. John’s July 4th Celebration is So Important

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

We are in the midst of St. John’s annual Festival celebration. The timing coincides with the Fourth of July, but our festival isn’t celebrating the Declaration of Independence. It is honoring one of the most important days in St. John’s history – emancipation.

The Danes took control of St. John in 1718. At that time, they brought enslaved people to the island to work the sugar plantations. The enslaved people were finally freed on July 3, 1848. July 4th is celebrated so widely on St. John, because it was the first morning of freedom for the formerly-enslaved people. July 3rd is Emancipation Day and will be honored with a ceremony in the park tomorrow at 10 a.m.

How Word of Emancipation was Spread 

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. From there, word of emancipation was spread plantation to plantation.


J’ouvert is a street party that celebrates the first sunrise of freedom. This celebration is typically held at daybreak on July 4th, but has been held a few days early the last couple of years. During j’ouvert, people dance through the streets while celebrating freedom. It’s a pretty incredible event.

July 4th Parade Details

The parade is scheduled to start at 11 a.m. Think island time, my friends. Wear comfy shoes and loose fitting clothes, because this is a hot and long one. Rain is forecasted too, so keep an umbrella handy.

The parade starts behind the ball field 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 and Extra Virgin until it reaches the roundabout.

July 4th 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. The fireworks are scheduled to start at 9 p.m.


It’s a great time to be in St. John!

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.

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

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