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Tuesday, July 5, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesCHILDREN'S VILLAGE OPENING RE-SET FOR TUESDAY

CHILDREN'S VILLAGE OPENING RE-SET FOR TUESDAY

Organizers of St. John's Children's Festival Village bustled about setting up games and prizes as the sun set Monday, even though the official opening ceremony was put off until Tuesday evening. It was an opportunity for the first team of volunteers to fine tune this year's offerings of fun and games in an alcohol-free environment.
A group of children appeared on the scene, unconcerned with formalities and eager to swing the kids' version of a sledgehammer toward the lever on the soaring muscle-measure scale.
Skyla Fahie and Shari Penn, both 10 years old, said tossing darts at the balloon board is one of their favorite things to do at the village. "I like to pop the balloons and throw the balls after the pins to make them fall down," Skyla said.
Over to the side, volunteer Jacqueline Sprauve tied three large trash bags full of inflated balloons to the rope barrier around the peg board already filled with balloons. "When we need to replenish them, we're all ready to go," she said.
This year's Children's Village, set up near the entrance to the new National Park Visitor Center, bears little resemblance to the first ones in the mid 1990s, when there were two giant tiki totem poles with a bean-bag toss board in between them, and little else.
The activity center for youngsters is presented each year by the St. John Community Foundation, nowadays in cooperation with school groups. Lonnie Willis, a long-time foundation member, said volunteers are essential to running a successful village. "It's very strenuous," she said, but "very rewarding."
This year, teams of volunteers have offered to work in rotating shifts, Willis said. One night, for example, a group from the Rotary Club of St. John plans to sell the tickets, supervise the games, redeem winning tickets and hand out prizes. Willis said she plans to recruit a team from her staff at the Stone Terrace restaurant.
As the volunteers worked and the visitors played Monday evening, foundation executive director Mary Blazine zipped up and down the street in front of the village with her pick-up truck, dropping off supplies and going off for more. As she unloaded tables for a new attraction this year – adult bingo games – buddy Cheryl Miller and her son, Hamlin, put the finishing touches on a hand-painted banner inviting grown-ups to take their chances.
Volunteer Terry Bertolino, hanging up stuffed frogs and monkeys along a string of game prizes, predicted the first few evenings of Children's Village would be slow because the main St. John Festival Village doesn't open until Thursday evening. But before twilight crept in, there was a small group of faces smiling up at her holding their prize-winning tickets high over their heads.
The start-up of Children's Village is the only break in the lull between last Sunday's St. John Festival Food Fair and this Thursday's scheduled opening of the main village, named Daniel's Court in honor of Community Foundation president Harry Daniel. The festivities of the first three weekends in June have been dominated by family-oriented activities – Pan-O-Rama and the prince and princess and queen competitions and coronation.
This year's food fair honored "Miss Enid" Francis, a Coral Bay grandmother who welcomes visitors to the V.I. National Park's Annaberg cultural restoration center, where she serves up johnnycakes she makes the traditional way, on a coal pot.

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Organizers of St. John's Children's Festival Village bustled about setting up games and prizes as the sun set Monday, even though the official opening ceremony was put off until Tuesday evening. It was an opportunity for the first team of volunteers to fine tune this year's offerings of fun and games in an alcohol-free environment.
A group of children appeared on the scene, unconcerned with formalities and eager to swing the kids' version of a sledgehammer toward the lever on the soaring muscle-measure scale.
Skyla Fahie and Shari Penn, both 10 years old, said tossing darts at the balloon board is one of their favorite things to do at the village. "I like to pop the balloons and throw the balls after the pins to make them fall down," Skyla said.
Over to the side, volunteer Jacqueline Sprauve tied three large trash bags full of inflated balloons to the rope barrier around the peg board already filled with balloons. "When we need to replenish them, we're all ready to go," she said.
This year's Children's Village, set up near the entrance to the new National Park Visitor Center, bears little resemblance to the first ones in the mid 1990s, when there were two giant tiki totem poles with a bean-bag toss board in between them, and little else.
The activity center for youngsters is presented each year by the St. John Community Foundation, nowadays in cooperation with school groups. Lonnie Willis, a long-time foundation member, said volunteers are essential to running a successful village. "It's very strenuous," she said, but "very rewarding."
This year, teams of volunteers have offered to work in rotating shifts, Willis said. One night, for example, a group from the Rotary Club of St. John plans to sell the tickets, supervise the games, redeem winning tickets and hand out prizes. Willis said she plans to recruit a team from her staff at the Stone Terrace restaurant.
As the volunteers worked and the visitors played Monday evening, foundation executive director Mary Blazine zipped up and down the street in front of the village with her pick-up truck, dropping off supplies and going off for more. As she unloaded tables for a new attraction this year – adult bingo games – buddy Cheryl Miller and her son, Hamlin, put the finishing touches on a hand-painted banner inviting grown-ups to take their chances.
Volunteer Terry Bertolino, hanging up stuffed frogs and monkeys along a string of game prizes, predicted the first few evenings of Children's Village would be slow because the main St. John Festival Village doesn't open until Thursday evening. But before twilight crept in, there was a small group of faces smiling up at her holding their prize-winning tickets high over their heads.
The start-up of Children's Village is the only break in the lull between last Sunday's St. John Festival Food Fair and this Thursday's scheduled opening of the main village, named Daniel's Court in honor of Community Foundation president Harry Daniel. The festivities of the first three weekends in June have been dominated by family-oriented activities – Pan-O-Rama and the prince and princess and queen competitions and coronation.
This year's food fair honored "Miss Enid" Francis, a Coral Bay grandmother who welcomes visitors to the V.I. National Park's Annaberg cultural restoration center, where she serves up johnnycakes she makes the traditional way, on a coal pot.