Aug. 25, 2004 – Paper snowflakes and an inflatable plastic snowman didn't do much to cool off Monday night's hot tempo as St. John celebrated its annual Night Out Against Crime in Cruz Bay Park.
"It's for a good cause. We have a lot of crime in St. John," 16-year-old Gemma Ashley said.
Gemma chairs the St. John Community Foundation's Teen Committee, which organized the event.
Turning to give another volunteer directions, she acknowledged that chairing the event is a big job. "But it's fun, you know," she added.
While the popcorn, cotton candy and music by Ah We Band were entertaining, the messages from several organizations with tables set up in the park were serious.
The V.I. National Guard was on hand with an anti-drug message. "We are losing most of our young people to drugs," Sgt. Beverly John-Baptiste said.
The National Guard also was recruiting. Sgt. Matthew Connor said that to be accepted, an applicant must be between 17 and 36 years old, a U.S. citizen and high school graduate.
Lyria Freeman, who works on St. Thomas with the Village substance abuse program, said she was telling students to stay in school. "And read, read, read. The most important thing is life is reading," she said.
The Police Department had a few officers out meeting, greeting and passing out small presents to the crowd. "Say no to violence," Officer Bridget Conow said as she distributed balls, hats and tiny snowmen.
The music and the crowd drew residents and tourists alike.
Connor Randolph, 12, of Boston said he and his family came into town for an evening out from Maho Bay Camps, where they're staying. "I like the music," he said.
Dixie Van Deventer and her husband, Harold, of Monticello, Ill., came into Cruz Bay from the Westin Resort for dinner, heard the music and decided to stick around for a while. "Do you have a lot of crime here?" she asked.
The Night Out also was a time for residents to catch up with each other.
Val Trillhaase was saying goodbye to friends because she is moving back to her home state of New Jersey "so I can be closer to grandkids."
She and her husband, Walt, were major players in organizing St. John Rescue. He died last December and she has sold their house.
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