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Charlotte Amalie
Wednesday, May 29, 2024


Feb. 17, 2002 – The term "promotional vehicle" has literal meaning for the Virgin Islands at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City this month.
The Tourism Department and American Airlines have combined forces to dispatch a transporation van to the Olympic Park that is an eye-catching sight amid the snow and ice. Front and back, left and right, the truck is plastered with colorful photographic blowups of the territory's tropical sea, sand and sunny skies.
On the front, above the windshield, a pair of snorkelers are afloat in the serene sea. "This is our winter game," the text reads. On the driver's side is a photo panel of the snorkelers dwarfed in a panorama of sky meeting sea.
"Athletes aren't the only ones who need to warm up" reads the headline of the photo mural on the other side, of an unoccupied beach extending out into azure water that stretches to a horizon where whipped-cream clouds parade across a cerulean sky.
At the back, there are three vertical panels, labeled St. Croix, St. John (this one actually is a door) and St. Thomas, each with its own photo image.
The Tourism Department distributed a press release describing the van as being "wrapped in postcard-style images of America's Caribbean." It stated that the vehicle would be "on location in snowy Olympic Park" Feb. 8-24.
The release quotes Tourism Commissioner Pamela Richards as saying that the van "is a unique way for the people of the U.S. Virgin Islands to show our support for our athletes." And, yes, well, "We also hope to reach the many sports enthusiasts attending the events who are looking for a tropical escape from the winter weather."
On the van's sides along with the photo images and catchy tag lines are the names of the V.I. athletes at the Olympics — two women's luge racers, and a 2-man and a 4-man bobsled team. According to the release, the truck is making stops at "numerous competition venues around Salt Lake City to spread goodwill and cheer for the USVI competitors," while at the same time encouraging "thoughts of a warm Caribbean vacation amidst the cold weather and snow."
Adding audio and video appeal, the Tourism Department personnel staffing the van play music by the Territorial Court Rising Stars Youth Steel Orchestra, and a large television screen displays V.I. and American Airlines commercials promoting travel to the territory. The staff also is handing out brochures and island souvenirs.

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