Oct. 26, 2003 – A variety of events will be taking place this week in the St. Thomas-St. John district in observance of National Red Ribbon Week, a time to take a stand in support of drug-free communities.
The Red Ribbon Coalition in the Virgin Islands has selected as its theme for the week "Drug free is the way to be for making the promise for 2003." The national theme is "Take a minute; make a difference," and its focus is on "helping young people develop the internal and external assets they need to lead healthy lives," according to the Red Ribbon Coalition Web site.
Nationwide, the annual Red Ribbon Campaign came about in response to the murder in Mexico of U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration undercover agent Enrique "Kiki" Camarena in 1985. According to a Web site, "In honor of Camarena's memory and his battle against illegal drugs, friends and neighbors began to wear red badges of satin. Parents, sick of the destruction of alcohol and other drugs, had begun forming coalitions. Some of these coalitions took Camarena as their model and embraced his belief that one person can make a difference."
The National Family Partnership organized the first nationwide Red Ribbon Campaign in 1988. The local coalition consists of representatives of federal and V.I. government and private-sector groups including the Law Enforcement Planning Commission, the Police and Education Departments and the Lions Club, according to coalition member Dolores Thomas.
"Drugs continue to be a threat to the health and welfare of the youth of the territory," the V.I. coalition said in a statement. "The Red Ribbon Campaign is designed to encourage healthy, drug-free and violence-free lifestyles among our youth."
On Sunday, the coalition invited the community to take part in worship at Christ Church Methodist in downtown Charlotte Amalie.
Monday is designated as "Pledge Day." There will be volunteers at post offices throughout St. Thomas and St. John from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. collecting signatures on pledges to stay drug free.
On the St. Thomas campus of the University of the Virgin Islands, pledge signatures will be taken from noon to 2 p.m. at the new dining pavilion; all are encouraged to wear red, and there will be judging at 1 p.m. in the dining pavilion of the "best red ribbon hairstyle" and the "most creative red ribbon outfit."
Also on Monday, Thomas said, the coalition will announce the winners of a student essay contest on the week's theme. Awards will be given for first, second and third place at the elementary, junior high and senior high school levels.
Tuesday is "Decoration Day." Schools, offices and other workplaces are encouraged to put up decorations reflecting the week's purpose and theme.
At UVI-St. Thomas, each department and division has been invited to submit an entry in the "best office door decoration" competition.
Wednesday on St. Thomas, there will be a march down Main Street from Emancipation Garden to Emile Griffith Ballpark beginning at 9 a.m. The program to follow at 9:30 a.m. in the ball field will feature "a simulated drug drop," involving a helicopter, pseudo-bad guys and real law-enforcement authorities, Thomas said. "We have informed the businesses in the area that this is happening, so they don't think it's the real thing," she said.
At UVI-St. Thomas, the day's competition is for "best cardboard tombstone" reflective of the facts of drug abuse. Judging will be at 10 a.m. in the Student Affairs Office.
On Thursday, all of the St. John schools — public, private, parochial and home-based — are invited to take part in a march starting at 9:15 a.m. from the Cruz Bay tennis courts and going to Cruz Bay Park. From the park, participants will get to observe a simulated drug drop, too, this one in the harbor outside Stevens Cay. "There will be a boat chase with the Blue Lightning, and K-9 units will track the guy onshore on the outskirts of Cruz Bay," St. John coordinator Elmo Rabsatt said. After that, Julius E. Sprauve School will host a luncheon for all the other schools, he said.
On St. Thomas, the public is invited to the UVI campus for a debate from 12:30 to 1:45 p.m. in Chase Auditorium (Business Building 110). Members of the UVI Debate Society will square off on the topic "Be it resolved that legalizing marijuana would negatively impact our youth." Admission is free.
In the evening, the coalition and the Law Enforcement Planning Commission are hosting a "Karaoke Night" competition from 7 p.m. to midnight at Iggies Beach Bar and Grill at Bolongo Beach Resort. Admission is free; judges will select a king, a queen and the best group of the evening.
Friday has been designated as "Wear Red Day" in the community by the V.I. coalition.
No activities are scheduled for Saturday, Thomas said.
Sunday is "Family Day." To close out the week, the coalition invites the public to a gathering at shed No. 3 at the beach on Magens Bay. There will be free food and drink starting at noon.
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