March 31st is recognized every year in the U.S. Virgin Islands as Transfer Day, commemorating the day that the Danish West Indies were formally ceded to the United States by Denmark, becoming the U.S. Virgin Islands. March 31, 2017 marked the 100th anniversary of Transfer Day, so special centennial events were held to commemorate this auspicious anniversary.
The U.S. Virgin Islands Centennial Commission was formed to organize the Centennial Commemoration of Transfer Day. The Centennial Commemoration was slated to be a territory-wide, multi-year observation with events and activities ranging from parades, concerts, and multi-cultural celebrations, to exhibitions and festivals featuring local art, dance, music, and food. The series of events was scheduled to continue through December of 2017, but Hurricanes Irma and Maria shortened the planned activities. The goal of the festivities was to highlight the continuum of historical events and people of the U.S. Virgin Islands including the pre-Columbian period and indigenous inhabitants, Columbus and the arrival of the early Europeans, the settlement of the Danish West Indies, the forced migration of Africans, the transfer of the Virgin Islands to the United States, and the territory and it’s melting pot of people and culture today.
To organize and prepare the Centennial Commemoration events, $500,000 in grant assistance was provided under the Office of Insular Affairs’ Technical Assistance Program to the U.S. Virgin Islands Centennial Commission. When the grant was given, Interior Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas Esther Kia’aina stated: “I am pleased to support Governor Kenneth Mapp, Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett, the members of the Centennial Commission and the people of the U.S. Virgin Islands as they plan their celebration of this significant milestone in the history of US-Virgin Islands relations…The next two years leading up to the actual Centennial Celebration presents a host of opportunities to showcase their rich history and heritage as well as the future of the Virgin Islands.”
To learn more about the history of Transfer Day, please click here.
The Virgin Islands Centennial Transfer Commission created a website for the centennial celebration and corresponding events. Here is a list of the events that were scheduled to be held on St. Croix according to the official commission website:
January 31 to April 5, 2017 : Territorial Centennial Art Exhibit
February 3 to April 4, 2017 : Territorial Centennial Historic Tours
February 17, 2017 : Centennial Concert Kick-Off (Frederiksted)
February 17 – 20, 2017 : Virgin Islands Agricultural Fair (Estate Upper Love)
March 10, 2017 : Centennial Expo (Christiansted)
March 30, 2017 : Governor’s Reception Dinner, 6:00pm – 8:00pm (St. Croix Government House, Christiansted)
March 30, 2017 : A Grand Centennial Concert, featuring the Copenhagen Brass Ensemble, Ay Ay Dancers, Quadrille Dancers, Guardians of Culture Moko Jumbies, Kev’s Pan Vibes, and more, presented by Ten Sleepless Knights, Danish-Virgin Islands Cultural Exchange Program, and Doc Peterson Foundation. The concert starts at 8:00pm, and tickets are available at Armstrong Ice Cream, Many Hands Gallery, or directly from Doc Petersen by calling (340) 690-0617. (Island Center for the Performing Arts, Christiansted)
March 31, 2017 (Transfer Day) : Centennial Parade and Transfer Day Ceremony, featuring a military parade from 8:00am – 10:00am, followed by the Transfer Day Centennial Ceremony from 10:00am – noon on the lawn at the Christiansted National Historic Site. (Christiansted)
March 31, 2017 (Transfer Day) : Centennial Transfer Day Block Party and Fireworks – CRRA will host a block party to celebrate the Centennial Transfer Day from 5:00pm-8:00pm featuring live music by the Copenhagen Brass Ensemble. At 7:30pm, fireworks provided by St. Croix Christmas Boat Parade, Inc. will light up the night following an informal boat procession of flags in Christiansted Harbor. (Christiansted)
March 31, 2017 (Transfer Day) : Opening of New Centennial Exhibits at Fort Christiansvaern – The first exhibit, entitled Visionary Reflections: St. Croix at the Centennial Crossroads, captures stories of Virgin Islanders living on St. Croix as they reflect on the past 100 years, and addresses the questions being asked as we plan for the next century. The second exhibit, entitled Chaney, Stories from Migrant Fragments, explores how small pieces of ceramic, called “chaney” on St. Croix, viewed as fragments of a cosmopolitan past, are today representative of processes of discovery, economy, style, and community identity. The exhibits will open at Noon, following the Transfer Day Ceremony, and will remain open to the public daily 8:30am to 4:30pm during Fort Christiansvaern hours of operation.(Christiansted)
April 2, 2017 : Centennial Gala Ball (Renaissance St. Croix Carambola Beach Resort & Spa) from 6:00pm-10pm. Tickets for this event are $75 each and available for purchase at Anally Farms and Undercover Books & Gifts.
April 2, 2017 : Sunset Quadrille (Frederiksted)
April 15, 2017 : The Centennial Exhibition: My Take/My View – Peruse edgy and thought-provoking art in different mediums focused on the theme: “What does the Centennial mean to you?” For more information, please contact the staff of Fort Frederik at (340) 772-2021 (Fort Frederik, Frederiksted)
April 30, 2017 : Copenhagen Royal Chapel Choir, a Choral Salute to the USVI Centennial (Mass at Lord God of Sabbaoth Lutheran Church, Christiansted)
May 2, 2017 : Copenhagen Royal Chapel Choir, a Choral Salute to the USVI Centennial – Concert and Welcome Reception (Government House Ballroom, Christiansted)
May 3, 2017 : Copenhagen Royal Chapel Choir, a Choral Salute to the USVI Centennial (St. Patrick’s Church, Frederiksted)
June 9, 2017 : Centennial Summit: Where Are We Going From Here (Frederiksted)
July 3, 2017 : Centennial Arts & Crafts Fair (Frederiksted)
July 24 – 29, 2017 : St. Croix Archaeology Society – 27th International Association for Caribbean Archaeology Congress (Divi Carina Bay Resort)
October 7, 2017 : Centennial Storytelling & Folklore (Christiansted)
December 29, 2017 : Centennial Closing Ceremonies
For more details and information about what’s happening on all of the U.S. Virgin Islands for this auspicious occasion, you can visit the Virgin Islands Centennial Transfer website at www.vitransfercentennial.org.