Dec. 26, 2006 — The Christmas festival village, dubbed "Browne FestiVille," opened Tuesday evening in Frederiksted in honor of 16-year festival participant Dora Browne.
"We can not stand on the sidelines saying festival needs to be better," said festival committee treasurer Richard Nicks in his opening statements. "We have to help make festival better."
Festival royalty and dignitaries cut the ribbon officially opening FestiVille and in their greetings wished everyone a safe holiday. "No fighting, no killing, nothing," said Browne. "Let's be all the more merry." The committee presented a certificate to Browne for her constant commitment to the event, calling her a "mainstay of festival."
Delegate Donna Christensen spoke of the blend of cultures on the island. In celebrating a cultural blend, the theme of this year's carnival, Christensen said we must note that our heritage "is rich and combines all of our African and Caribbean [ancestry], shaping the culture of St. Croix."
The stage was surrounded by 25 booths selling a variety of mouth-watering foods, like seafood kallaloo, goat water, pot fish and the all-around crowd pleaser: chicken leg and Johnny cakes. The air filled with scents and sounds as the dj played favorite calypso tunes for the season and booth chefs whipped up their specialties.
In one booth, entitled Foto Fantasy, Karen Carty and her mother, Pearl Lake, have been capturing Christmas festival memories for 16 years. "People come out to the village en masse," Carty said. "We have customers that come back religiously every year to get an updated picture."
Sen. Ronald Russell addressed the crowd, saying festival is one of the most important events of the year. "Festival is your event," Russell said. "Come out and support it." Russell said the Senate works hard all year for times like this. "We want our people to enjoy their culture and heritage."
Smiles came freely as people greeted those they haven't seen in years, months or days. Families with children, walking or in strollers, found spots to munch and relax while everyone "people-watched" and milled leisurely through the crowds.
Sen.-elect Jimi Weber said he was having a "wonderful" time and said being a newly elected senator made his village experience different this year. He said the main difference is "the time is takes to traverse any place because I don't want anyone to say I passed them up."
The Sparkle Light Twirlers and Stanley and the Ten Sleepless Nights provided additional entertainment. Also on stage for the opening ceremonies were Commissioner of Tourism Pamela C. Richards, St. Croix Administrator Gloria Waterman (representing Gov. Charles W. Turnbull and Lt. Gov. Vargrave Richards), village chairman Romney Williams, and festival committee president Lenise Hunt.
Duchess Azhanea Wathey, Prince and Princess Myles Ventura and Makeda Turbe, Mr. and Ms. St. Croix Julio Petersen III and Yairia Bermudez also graced the stage, their tiaras and crowns shining brightly in the light.
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