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HomeNewsArchivesSunset Jazz Brings Big-Spending Crowd to Frederiksted Waterfront

Sunset Jazz Brings Big-Spending Crowd to Frederiksted Waterfront

July 23, 2007 — Business was booming in Frederiksted Friday as Sunset Jazz returned to its original location on the waterfront.
The popular monthly concert relocated to the Fort Frederik beach for more than two years while the waterfront project was being completed. After the concert, several business owners reported high sales and increased traffic to their establishments.
"We broke our record with the number of people on a jazz Friday," said Allan Cotter, owner of the Blue Moon Restaurant on Strand Street. Cotter said he prepared as best he could for the expected crowd, "but the demand was much stronger," he said.
Cotter could be seen Friday surrounded by a throng of people enticed by the aroma of Cajun shrimp and crawfish spring rolls cooking on a grill outside his establishment set up especially for that night. "We sold out in about 90 minutes and then served about 40 to 45 percent more dinners than we usually do," he said.
Sunset Jazz is a project of the Frederiksted Economic Development Association (FEDA), whose mission is to promote Frederiksted and its businesses. "We had to wait until the waterfront project was officially turned over to the government and apply for the permits from Housing, Parks and Recreation," said event organizer and FEDA member Bridget Dawson.
Officially named the Verne I. Richards Veterans Memorial Park, the quarter-mile long seaside area boasts meandering cobblestone walkways, native flora and fauna, groups of benches and access to the sea for anglers. A 15-by-40-foot stage — elevated about two feet, and situated just a few feet from the Caribbean Sea — serves as the entertainment area and the new home to the monthly jazz production.
Headlining the homecoming was vocalist Judi Fricks, who, when she is not performing at venues across the island, is a community activist organizing neighborhood-watch groups.
Dawson was overjoyed at the turnout. Police barricades cordoned off one block of Strand Street. While hundreds of residents lounged on beach chairs on the grassy area, others crowded the street, mingling with neighbors and visiting various stores. "The ambiance and view is incredible,” she said. "It’s the most gorgeous backdrop on the face of the planet."
Calling the recent concert a "trial run," Dawson said the day did not come without challenges. "People became accustomed to having convenient parking — now they have to walk a couple of blocks." The police presence was strong, Dawson said, noting that officers patrolled the entire waterfront, from the 300-space parking area behind the children's park to the fisherman's market.
At the Frederiksted Mall Monday, Co Co De Co owner Fred Mohammed was still in high spirits. "I had a 100-percent increase in profits," he said. "It was positive; the clientele was pleased and happy."
Kendra Gaston, owner of Tropical Java, said the concert was "too short, but (had) a good turnout."
Over at Napoleon Pizza business was brisk. "We went over and beyond the normal," said manager Ancilla Gittens. Napoleons' and Alliance Clothing are both owned by Osvaldo "Polo" Gittens, and the entrepreneur opened a second pizzeria in May at the old Papa John's location in Peters Rest.
"It was my best day ever," said Millie Calvin. Her new store, Cultural Creations, is a consignment shop showcasing the talent of V.I. artists.
Pier 69 was doing a brisk business, too. People bellied up to the boat-shaped bar and the patio was crammed with diners. The location, owned by FEDA member Unise Tranberg, is the official gathering place for the members.
"I had to refuse people," said Danielle Ducrot, owner of San Tropez. "We were very, very busy. It's frustrating to turn away business." The small French restaurant holds about 45 people at one sitting.
Along with music for the soul and nourishment for the stomach, the Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts (CMCArts) fed the concertgoers’ artistic nature.
Museum founder Candia Atwater held a wine tasting while featuring art from around the Caribbean. There was standing-room only in the gallery, Atwater said, thanking the interns and volunteers who helped make the night a success.
Frederiksted merchants are preparing for the next Sunset Jazz, which happens on the third Friday of every month. "It was a learning curve for all of us," Cotter said as he summed up the experience. "The whole thing looked classier; there was a lot of energy and excitement.”
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