Despite partly cloudy skies and occasional heavy rains, several thousand Washington area residents turned out yesterday for a Caribbean festival behind the White House that featured costumed girls performing a temporarily successful sun dance to the sounds of steel drum bands.

For most of the afternoon, the sultry sounds of calypso music and the pungent smell of spicy West Indian foods - shrimp fried rice served with corn pone, candied yams, quail and hot peppers - filled the air around the Ellipse which was already humid and hot at 85 degrees.

It was like being in Trinidad and Tobago, the country that sponsored the festival in conjunction with the D.C. Recreation Department, the U.S. Park Service and other Caribbean countries.

Neither the muggy humidity nor the rain, however, dampened the spirits of the participants in the festival, which consisted of parade, good food, Caribe and Red Stripe beer and lots of congregating.

When the skies above began to darken, signaling one of a series of downpours that marred the day, the costumed Caribbean princesses in the parade began doing a sun dance. When it appeared that the sky was beginning to lighten, a second truckload of steel band drummers pulled up alongside them for support.

When the rain finally fell, some of the crowd took cover under tents and trees. The rains soon subsided, and the festival resumed.

For those planning such outdoor activities through Tuesday, such resilience will come in handy, according to the National Weather Service, which predicts more of the same kind of weather until then.

The weather today is expected to be partly cloudy and humid with occasional showers that may include heavy rain. The temperature is expected to be between 85 and 88 today with a high of 90 tomorrow. The weather is expected to clear by Wednesday.