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HomeNewsArchivesSt. Croix Holds Its Own Inaugural Ball

St. Croix Holds Its Own Inaugural Ball

Jan. 20, 2009 — Teddy's in Sion Farm on St. Croix was the place to be Tuesday for an elegant inaugural ball after the inauguration of President Barack H. Obama.
Indoors and out, wall-sized projection TVs showed CNN's coverage of the major inaugural balls. Red, white and blue bunting was draped liberally around. Ladies and gentlemen in elegant evening wear strode up a red carpet between two rows of young girls and boys playing violin and viola. Waiters and waitresses passed in and out of the milling crowd with trays of canapés and sweets.
"It's just been a great day," said Raymond Williams, vice chairman of the Democratic Party of St. Croix, one of the ball's sponsors. "I really like the quote from Obama's inaugural speech: 'Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.' That's the right message for the times we are in. That the ball is a fundraiser for the (Juan F. Luis) Hospital I think is in keeping with the new president's call to service."
Tickets to the ball were $29, with proceeds going to the V.I. Cardiac Care Center at Juan Luis, to buy defibrillators for the island's fire stations.
"We are trying to raise $35,000," said Lola Christian, supervisor of cardiology services at Juan Luis. "We want three in each station: two for the trucks and one to stay in the station. After that we want to equip the senior citizens' centers and homes, and then hopefully the schools. … With this fundraiser Teddy's given us a chance to assist the general public."
Inside, guests sat at large round tables topped with white linen, watching the wall-sized television, while listening to piano and wooden flute. After a bit, the boys and girls of the Ricardo Richards String Ensemble, led by Fred Williams, came inside to serenade the seated guests, then returned to their perches on either side of the red carpet.
All 20 of the diminutive bow-swinging musicians were under the age of 13, and all began learning recently, Williams said.
The party was a little slow starting as people trickled in for a drink and later a dance after watching the day's events unfold on the television from home. But it continued for many hours.
St. Croix Administrator Pedro Encarnacion was there.
"This is really the beginning of a new era," he said. Though times are rough, there is a mood of hope in the air, he said.
Hope and pride were common themes on many tongues Tuesday.
"We just got back Tuesday and found about the ball," said Leslie Rickenbach, a retired teacher who moved to St. Croix six years ago with her husband, Robert. "Living in the Virgin Islands, we couldn't vote for Obama, but we spent a lot of time campaigning for him while we were in the States. … We're deeply into the heart center, too, and were going to give something, so this is perfect. We can celebrate the beginning of a new era and we can help out, too."
Rickenbach had high praise for the musicians.
"These kids are phenomenal," she said. "We go to the Christmas concert every year. This gentleman (Williams) does a tremendous job."
People continued trickling in for several hours more, and the celebration continued until the wee hours. Tomorrow it's back to business.
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