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HomeNewsArchivesFrench Heritage Event at Catharineberg Brings Out Celebrities, Celebrants

French Heritage Event at Catharineberg Brings Out Celebrities, Celebrants

July 10, 2008 — After a grueling two days with the territory's eyes and ears focused on the Senate debate of the Captain Morgan deal, all was light and happiness Thursday as Gov. John deJongh Jr. welcomed the French community to an evening at Catharineberg.
None appeared happier than the governor himself, as he circulated through the throng accepting congratulations, hugs and pats on the back over the Senate's ratification of the rum-making agreement.
"This is your home," deJongh told the crowd, adding that he had that evening been named an "honorary Frenchman."
"It's an honor," the governor declared, joking about how he planned to carry out his new title. "I've never been an 'honorary' before, so I don't know how it goes."
One 11-year-old in the crowd seemed to have an idea of what should be done. Ryan Turbe stepped up next to the governor and announced he had traveled all the way from Alabama "to stand here with the governor." While the governor took that in stride, Turbe switched tacks and said, "I'm really here just to have some fun."
He wasn't alone. The hundreds of folk gathered at the handsome mansion overlooking the harbor already had a firm handle on the fun, swirling around the dance floor, munching on the elegant hors d'oeuvres, greeting old friends, chatting with local celebrities: Lt. Gov. Gregory Francis and his wife, Cheryl; Sen. Louis Hill and former senators Lorraine Berry and Craig Barshinger; former Lt. Gov. Derek Hodge and his wife, Monique Sibilly Hodge, assistant Tourism commissioner. There were more government officials than you could shake an SUV at.
The actual honorary French consul, Odile de Lyrot, introduced Philippe Vinogradoff, general consul of France, here from Miami for his first visit to the territory. The debonair consul had the crowd charmed as he purred, "You have France in your blood and in your heart." He continued, "And with France, come the French. I'd like you to know, you are in France's heart."
Earlier in the evening, Vinogradoff talked about his whirlwind visit. He arrived Thursday and leaves tomorrow.
"This is so special," he said, gazing down from the veranda at the happy crowd below. "You have a flavor — it's great to find French heritage here in the Virgin Islands. I knew from reading, but it's something else to see."
He is off tomorrow on a round of activities, including a look at the French Heritage Museum. But he has his priorities straight.
"Not until after 10," Vinogradoff said. "I am on the beach and I must swim in your beautiful water."
Judy and Leslie Richardson couldn't remember how many Bastille celebrations this makes for them. "I have no idea," Judy said. "I've stopped counting, but it's a wonderful way to see the people you never get to see."
Special seemed the word of the evening as folks pranced around in satins and silks, looking very, well, special.
The youngest French descendant was 2-year-old Eleni Bernier, who twirled around the dance floor in the arms of her dad, James Bernier Jr. Clearly a crowd pleaser, she jumped out of her dad's arms to twirl in her tiny peach-colored ball gown to admiring glances.
Thursday's reception was the second event in the five-day long French Heritage celebration, which began with a reception Wednesday evening by the honorary French consul. Friday is a 7 p.m. captains meeting for the Kingfishing Tournament at Hull Bay. That evening is also a pre- Bastille Dance at 8 p.m. at the Frenchtown Community Center, admission $10.
Sunday is the Kingfishing Tournament and fun day at Hull Bay all day long. Monday, Bastille Day, is a celebration by the Frenchtown Civic Organization at 5 p.m., with a dedication of the Lionel Olive Park at 6 p.m.
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July 10, 2008 -- After a grueling two days with the territory's eyes and ears focused on the Senate debate of the Captain Morgan deal, all was light and happiness Thursday as Gov. John deJongh Jr. welcomed the French community to an evening at Catharineberg.
None appeared happier than the governor himself, as he circulated through the throng accepting congratulations, hugs and pats on the back over the Senate's ratification of the rum-making agreement.
"This is your home," deJongh told the crowd, adding that he had that evening been named an "honorary Frenchman."
"It's an honor," the governor declared, joking about how he planned to carry out his new title. "I've never been an 'honorary' before, so I don't know how it goes."
One 11-year-old in the crowd seemed to have an idea of what should be done. Ryan Turbe stepped up next to the governor and announced he had traveled all the way from Alabama "to stand here with the governor." While the governor took that in stride, Turbe switched tacks and said, "I'm really here just to have some fun."
He wasn't alone. The hundreds of folk gathered at the handsome mansion overlooking the harbor already had a firm handle on the fun, swirling around the dance floor, munching on the elegant hors d'oeuvres, greeting old friends, chatting with local celebrities: Lt. Gov. Gregory Francis and his wife, Cheryl; Sen. Louis Hill and former senators Lorraine Berry and Craig Barshinger; former Lt. Gov. Derek Hodge and his wife, Monique Sibilly Hodge, assistant Tourism commissioner. There were more government officials than you could shake an SUV at.
The actual honorary French consul, Odile de Lyrot, introduced Philippe Vinogradoff, general consul of France, here from Miami for his first visit to the territory. The debonair consul had the crowd charmed as he purred, "You have France in your blood and in your heart." He continued, "And with France, come the French. I'd like you to know, you are in France's heart."
Earlier in the evening, Vinogradoff talked about his whirlwind visit. He arrived Thursday and leaves tomorrow.
"This is so special," he said, gazing down from the veranda at the happy crowd below. "You have a flavor -- it's great to find French heritage here in the Virgin Islands. I knew from reading, but it's something else to see."
He is off tomorrow on a round of activities, including a look at the French Heritage Museum. But he has his priorities straight.
"Not until after 10," Vinogradoff said. "I am on the beach and I must swim in your beautiful water."
Judy and Leslie Richardson couldn't remember how many Bastille celebrations this makes for them. "I have no idea," Judy said. "I've stopped counting, but it's a wonderful way to see the people you never get to see."
Special seemed the word of the evening as folks pranced around in satins and silks, looking very, well, special.
The youngest French descendant was 2-year-old Eleni Bernier, who twirled around the dance floor in the arms of her dad, James Bernier Jr. Clearly a crowd pleaser, she jumped out of her dad's arms to twirl in her tiny peach-colored ball gown to admiring glances.
Thursday's reception was the second event in the five-day long French Heritage celebration, which began with a reception Wednesday evening by the honorary French consul. Friday is a 7 p.m. captains meeting for the Kingfishing Tournament at Hull Bay. That evening is also a pre- Bastille Dance at 8 p.m. at the Frenchtown Community Center, admission $10.
Sunday is the Kingfishing Tournament and fun day at Hull Bay all day long. Monday, Bastille Day, is a celebration by the Frenchtown Civic Organization at 5 p.m., with a dedication of the Lionel Olive Park at 6 p.m.
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.