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LET THE GAMES BEGIN

The U. S. Virgin Islands contingent started the Pan American Games filled with a sense of community, honoring the past and saluting the future. Leonard W."Brother B" Bonelli Sr. Assistant Chef de Mission and Treasurer of the VI Olympic Committee and Lyn Reid, the Chef de Mission and Vice President of the St. Thomas Olympic Committee presented a mocko jumbie at the flag raising ceremony and at the exchange of gifts.
The mocko jumbie was designed specifically for these games by Rosie Mackay. The dress of the mocko jumbie was an array of hibiscus flowers in yellow, blue and white, the V.I. Olympic colors. She wore a straw hat with the Olympic symbol and carried the V.I. flag. The base of the mocko jumbie was made of mahogany from St. Croix Leap.
The gift was presented to Bob Raeburn, the Mayor of the Pan American Village, the official residence of the majority of the athletes and the site of the University of Manitoba. The explanation of the history of mocko jumbies, and in particular this mocko jumbie, awakened a curiosity in the Canadian officials to learn more about the USVI and its culture.
Bagpipes marched the delegation to the stage in the center of the Village where the VI National anthem was played.
The following evening over 5000 athletes representing 42 nations from North, South and Central America and the Caribbean paraded into the Winnipeg Stadium under a beautiful blue sky. This was the official opening ceremony.
Flora Hyacinth, gold medallist from the CASCO games in Maricaibo, Venezuela, proudly carried the V.I. flag. Hans Lawetz, President of the V.I. Olympic Association, was beaming with pride as the delegation paraded around the Stadium cheered by forty thousand Canadians flashing V.I. flags. What an impressive site, seeing 40,000 VI flags!
Lyn Reid accepted a beautifully hand-made quilt on behalf of the V.I. delegation. This ceremony marked the official opening of the XIII Pan American games.
An extravaganza of culture with an explosion of color from all nations was presented to a capacity crowd. The purpose of the Pan American games, to unite the Americas in peaceful competition, was evident this evening. Not only would there be competition from July 23 through August 8, but also unforgettable friendships would be made. At a time when it seems few nations speak to each other as friends, the Pan American games stand as a shining example of human exchange and camaraderie.
There will be 300 sessions of 39 sports. The Virgin Islands will have participants in eight sports: boxing, equestrian jumping, fencing, sailing, shooting, swimming, tennis and track and field. The athletes, the stars of the games, will be on stage. It will be the chance to show the world the talent and physical skill our tiny U.S. Virgin Islands has. It is not just a chance to compete; it is a chance to compete at the highest level.
Let the games begin.

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