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V.I., Puerto Rico Celebrate Friendship

Latin music and spirit will fill the air throughout the territory this weekend, celebrating V.I.-Puerto Rico Friendship with a three-day festival on St. Croix and a dance extravaganza on St. Thomas.

St. Croix’s 47th V.I.-Puerto Rico Friendship celebration takes place Friday through Sunday at the St. Croix Agriculture Department Grounds.

Three days of concerts and festivities will take place in the ad hoc Friendship Village set up in the ballpark, beginning with a ceremony 7 p.m. Friday, according to the VIPR Friendship Committee.

Stanley and the Ten Sleepless Knights, who have played traditional quelbe music on St. Croix for 41 years, will take the stage first. Band leader Stanley Jacobs is himself a Cruzan of Puerto-Rican extraction.

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Sabor Latino and the St. Croix Heritage Dancers will also perform Friday, according to Emilo Torres, who is coordinating the village activities this year.

Saturday and Sunday the festivities begin at 6 p.m., and local and Puerto Rican bands will play until late

"The village is always dedicated to an outstanding community servant and this year that honor goes to the late Gov. Juan F. Luis," Torres said Thursday. Luis, the territory’s first Hispanic governor and the first governor to serve 10 years, passed away earlier this year.

Luis was recently honored with a commemorative hand-cancellation limited-edition envelope with an official, one-of-a-kind commemorative rubber hand-stamp. The special envelopes, called "cachet envelopes," are sought after by stamp and postal memorabilia collectors. This one features Luis’ portrait incorporated into original artwork by St. Croix artist Barbara Guerre.

The Post Office has canceled 500 of the cachet envelopes and they will be available for sale at the festival village at $10 each. There are also about 70 framed sets, with a tastefully mounted, canceled cachet envelope and a short biography of the governor, which the VI-PR Friendship Committee will for $20 each.

On St. Thomas, there will be a "Cultural Exchange Jamboree" and "Folkloric Dance Festival" with a full evening of dance performances in the Charlotte Amalie High School auditorium, starting at at 7 p.m. The night’s lineup will feature renowned Puerto Rican Folkloric Dance Company Guateque, the St. Thomas Cultural Heritage Dancers, Mungo Niles Dancers, Salsa on One, Dominica Association Inc. and the Ritual Dancers, the Lockhart Afro-Antillean Dancers, the Charlotte Amalie Afro-Antillean Dancers and the Gladys Abraham Elementary School Dancers. The event is free.

Puerto Ricans have been a significant part of U.S. Virgin Islands and especially St. Croix society for well over a century. Some celebrations and pageants occurred at least as early as 1960, when the first VIPR Friendship Queen, Nereida Santos, was named, according to information from the VIPR Friendship Committee. It became official in 1964 when Gov. Ralph Paiewonsky signed an act making Columbus Day into Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico Friendship Day.

The act calls for the territory to "observe the occasion with fitting ceremonies honoring Puerto Ricans residing in our midst and who have made substantial contributions to the advancement and progress of the Virgin Islands."

The Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico Friendship Committee organizes and puts on the festivities. 
When the territory’s first Hispanic governor, Juan Luis, took office in 1978 his wife, Luz María Luis, began commemorating Friendship Day with ceremonies in Government House on St. Croix. St. Thomas also had a luncheon. 
What started as a luncheon, moved on to three days, then a week, and in 2005, spurred on by the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico Friendship Committee (VIPR), expanded to a whole month of pageants, concerts and festivities. Now it has combined with Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations nationwide, recognizing contributions of Hispanics of every origin to the national fabric.
In 2007 the celebrations were extended to St. Thomas. The first VIPR village was at the Christiansted waterfront and was dedicated to the late Miguel Duchesne, first VIPR committee president. 


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Latin music and spirit will fill the air throughout the territory this weekend, celebrating V.I.-Puerto Rico Friendship with a three-day festival on St. Croix and a dance extravaganza on St. Thomas.

St. Croix's 47th V.I.-Puerto Rico Friendship celebration takes place Friday through Sunday at the St. Croix Agriculture Department Grounds.

Three days of concerts and festivities will take place in the ad hoc Friendship Village set up in the ballpark, beginning with a ceremony 7 p.m. Friday, according to the VIPR Friendship Committee.

Stanley and the Ten Sleepless Knights, who have played traditional quelbe music on St. Croix for 41 years, will take the stage first. Band leader Stanley Jacobs is himself a Cruzan of Puerto-Rican extraction.

Sabor Latino and the St. Croix Heritage Dancers will also perform Friday, according to Emilo Torres, who is coordinating the village activities this year.

Saturday and Sunday the festivities begin at 6 p.m., and local and Puerto Rican bands will play until late

"The village is always dedicated to an outstanding community servant and this year that honor goes to the late Gov. Juan F. Luis," Torres said Thursday. Luis, the territory's first Hispanic governor and the first governor to serve 10 years, passed away earlier this year.

Luis was recently honored with a commemorative hand-cancellation limited-edition envelope with an official, one-of-a-kind commemorative rubber hand-stamp. The special envelopes, called "cachet envelopes," are sought after by stamp and postal memorabilia collectors. This one features Luis' portrait incorporated into original artwork by St. Croix artist Barbara Guerre.

The Post Office has canceled 500 of the cachet envelopes and they will be available for sale at the festival village at $10 each. There are also about 70 framed sets, with a tastefully mounted, canceled cachet envelope and a short biography of the governor, which the VI-PR Friendship Committee will for $20 each.

On St. Thomas, there will be a "Cultural Exchange Jamboree" and "Folkloric Dance Festival" with a full evening of dance performances in the Charlotte Amalie High School auditorium, starting at at 7 p.m. The night's lineup will feature renowned Puerto Rican Folkloric Dance Company Guateque, the St. Thomas Cultural Heritage Dancers, Mungo Niles Dancers, Salsa on One, Dominica Association Inc. and the Ritual Dancers, the Lockhart Afro-Antillean Dancers, the Charlotte Amalie Afro-Antillean Dancers and the Gladys Abraham Elementary School Dancers. The event is free.

Puerto Ricans have been a significant part of U.S. Virgin Islands and especially St. Croix society for well over a century. Some celebrations and pageants occurred at least as early as 1960, when the first VIPR Friendship Queen, Nereida Santos, was named, according to information from the VIPR Friendship Committee. It became official in 1964 when Gov. Ralph Paiewonsky signed an act making Columbus Day into Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico Friendship Day.

The act calls for the territory to "observe the occasion with fitting ceremonies honoring Puerto Ricans residing in our midst and who have made substantial contributions to the advancement and progress of the Virgin Islands."

The Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico Friendship Committee organizes and puts on the festivities. 
When the territory's first Hispanic governor, Juan Luis, took office in 1978 his wife, Luz María Luis, began commemorating Friendship Day with ceremonies in Government House on St. Croix. St. Thomas also had a luncheon. 
What started as a luncheon, moved on to three days, then a week, and in 2005, spurred on by the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico Friendship Committee (VIPR), expanded to a whole month of pageants, concerts and festivities. Now it has combined with Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations nationwide, recognizing contributions of Hispanics of every origin to the national fabric.
In 2007 the celebrations were extended to St. Thomas. The first VIPR village was at the Christiansted waterfront and was dedicated to the late Miguel Duchesne, first VIPR committee president.