83.6 F
Charlotte Amalie
Sunday, July 14, 2024


The final tally on Sunday's "Bringing Peace to Paradise" festival is not yet in, but it was estimated that 2,000 to 3,000 people came and went during the daylong event at the Coral Bay Ball Field.
The festival, which featured music, food and lots of children's activities, brought in funds for the Stop the Violence Project, which is committed to eliminating violent crime in the Virgin Islands. Proceeds will go directly to victims and their families to assist them with the high cost of violent crime.
Barges, ferries and shuttles were kept busy throughout the day running festivalgoers between Red Hook, St. Thomas, and St. John's Cruz Bay and Coral Bay. Some cars were turned away in Red Hook when the barges could not accommodate any more vehicles. Most drivers waited in line for the next one.
On St. John a steady stream of traffic moved along the usually quiet Centerline Rd.
All three islands were represented in the crowd, with several people coming from Tortola, Virgin Gorda and St. Croix to support the fund-raising event.
St. Thomas schoolteacher George Casazza, who came with his truck and his family from St. Thomas, said, "I came to support the cause." He also came to support his daughter, who is a member of the V.I. Traditional Mocko Jumbies who performed at the event.
Sens. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg, Roosevelt David, and V.I. Delegate to Congress Donna Christian Christiansen were present. Political supporters also turned out in groups of like-colored T-shirts, blending well with the brightly colored flags and decorations around the field.
Music and mocko jumbies, food and face painting, ponies and donkeys all combined in the large open field in Coral Bay to make the day fun for the entire family.
According to volunteer Naomi Baylarian, most of the artisans selling their wares or offering services at the event were donating 50 percent of the money made to the project.
The Stop the Violence Project, the brainchild of St. Thomas resident Mary Bartolucci, was born out of two tragic shooting incidents last spring on St. Thomas. The first was of a friend of Bartolucci's daughter, Geoffrey Kennedy.
Kennedy, a Tortola resident, was shot in the back in April on Back Street, while on St. Thomas to apply to take the exam for his General Equivalency Diploma. The shooting left Kennedy, who was 19 at the time, paralyzed from the waist down.
One month later 18-year-old Jason Carroll, son of Assistant U.S. Attorney James Carroll and his wife, Celia, was shot and killed on Main Street. Celia Caroll was one of the volunteers for the festival.
Kennedy moved through the crowd in his wheelchair, greeting old and new friends. When asked how he was, Kennedy smiled and said he was "doing fine."
Bartolucci said the event was "everything we could have asked for. The mix of people represented was perfect."
Even the morning's heavy downpour was a blessing, according to Bartolucci. "We had all been working really hard, and the rain just cooled us off."

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