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Police Preparing for Crowds at Christmas Festival

Dec. 29, 2004 – The Crucian Christmas Festival Village is to open Thursday at 7 p.m. Police Commissioner Elton Lewis Wednesday was talking to the press, as well as representatives from the various government agencies playing a part in the festival, letting them know that his department was "serious" about making sure the event was a safe one for residents and guests.
He warned if any vendors were selling anything they shouldn't be selling, "We will shut them down."
He said his officers will also be watching for contraband — drugs and weapons. He said anyone wearing trench coats or clothing that could hide contraband, "Will be searched as much as the law allows."
He also took a strong tone when referring to holding the events in a timely fashion. "If J'ouvert does not start on time that doesn't matter, it will end on time. I will give the order."
He said the history of events running late has caused havoc with the police department and officers working over time. He said, "They are people too, they need a little time off to enjoy the celebrations."
He said the events rambling on hours after they were supposed to be finished also caused problems with residents and businesses because roads are closed to traffic at certain events. He asked that bands not stop in places for long periods, playing music and delaying everyone else in the parade.
Referring to the recent shooting incident outside a crowded Frederiksted night club, Lewis said crowded areas will be monitored and building owners will be made to confirm with law concerning capacity.
At the press conferences were representatives from Fire Services, V.I. Port Authority, Department of Planning and Natural Resources and the festival committee to emphasize this a joint effort.
Lewis said that federal agencies were also offering assistance "on sea and in the air." He said he did not want to outline all his plans, "We like to keep a little to surprise the criminal element."
The criminal element might get surprised and find themselves on tape, if they commit crimes in the Festival Village. Territorial Chief Novelle Frances said cameras had been installed throughout the village.
A cruise ship will be docking one day of the festival. Port Authority officials warned that no other boats would be allowed on the dock at that time and that any boat that gets too close to the cruise ship will be boarded and searched.
Fire Marshall Alexandro Rivera said that the setting off of fireworks was against V.I. law.
Chief Deputy Herminio Velazquez warned residents about open bottles. He said that, unfortunately, if a fight breaks out, bottles become "handy weapons." He added they also can cause problems when they are just left in the street where there are crowds of people milling about.
Velazquez said, "For the life of me, I don't understand why people find this a good time to bring their pet snakes out, draped around their necks. Some people are terrified of them. We are not going to tolerate them."
He also cautioned people not to bring their dogs. He said dogs without leashes were especially troublesome.
The officers also advised parents to make sure their small children have identification with them and also that the children know their last names. In previous years, children have been separated from their parents and they did not know their parents' last name.
The remaining events are:
Dec. 30
-Festival Village Opening, ribbon-cutting ceremony, 7 p.m., Festival Village.
Jan. 2
-Water Sports, noon, Fort Frederik beach.
Jan. 3
-Caribbean Night and King and Queen of the Band, 8 p.m., Festival Village.
Jan. 4
-Cultural Night/Quelbe Tramp, 8 p.m., Tramp begins at Frederiksted Post Office and ends at Festival Village.
Jan. 5
-Food, Arts and Crafts Fair at Ann Heyliger Vegetable Market.
-Calypso Monarch Finals, 8 p.m., Paul E. Joseph Stadium.
Jan 6
-J'ouvert, 5 a.m., Hannah's Rest corner.
-Three Kings Day at Festival Village.
-Latin Night, 8 p.m., at Festival Village.
Jan. 7
-Children's Parade, 10 a.m.,
Jan. 8
-Adult's Parade, 10 a.m., Frederiksted.
-Village closing.
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