85 F
Cruz Bay
Tuesday, June 25, 2024


June 22, 2001 – The St. John Festival Children's Village opens for business — well, no, for fun and games — on Friday in Cruz Bay and will remain in operation nightly through July 3 from 6 to 10 p.m.
This year's mini-village promises to be "one of our best," Westra Bea Miller, executive assistant of the sponsoring St. John Community Foundation, says. "We'll have new games plus the classics, lots of prizes, fresh popcorn and cotton candy, and face painters. Where else but St. John can you enjoy the breezes off the harbor while your kids play balloon darts or our new game Frog Bog?"
The foundation has been operating the young people's special part of the festival since its start a decade ago. Pine Peace School and other entities have also been affiliated with it, Miller says, but this year it's strictly a project of the foundation — and its volunteers.
The idea behind the Children's Village is to provide "laid-back fun for youngsters of all ages in an alcohol- and drug-free environment," she says. "It's a safe and fun environment for families to spend time together while enjoying the carnival season and the Fourth of July."
Also, she notes, "We know that children often want independence and the freedom to hang out with their friends." However, she adds, "we appreciate it if children younger than 8 years old do not come without a parent or other responsible adult in tow." And if the kids don't assume that responsibility, their elders need to do so.
The project is aimed primarily at children 4 to 13 years of age. Besides balloon darts, the "classic" games typically include mini-basketball, ring toss, and a Strong Man machine. "This year we will also have a new Caribbean-theme bullseye and a soccer-related challenge for the older kids," Miller says. And, of course, Frog Bog, about which she is not about to share any details in advance, other than to say it's fun.
While the focus has always been on children," she says, there are two attractions strictly for adults this year — ongoing bingo games and a raffle of prizes including stays at the Marriott Frenchman's Reef and Point Pleasant resorts and meals at local restaurants. Bingo also was offered last year, she says, and it and the raffle "are the manifestation of our attempt to make this more of a fundraiser for the foundation than it has been in the past."
Children's Village proceeds will support the foundation's operations and its program of awarding mini-grants throughout the year to fund community-oriented projects of local youth groups and organizations.
Tickets for children's games are 50 cents. Winners get tokens which can be collected and then redeemed for "a range of cool toys and prizes," as Miller puts it. Sodas, cotton candy, popcorn and local foods will be available for purchase. Raffle tickets, available only to adults, are $5 apiece or five for $20.
"We are looking forward to seeing the entire community there," Miller says. "If you are able to help by volunteering, we would love you even more." Helpers are needed primarily to operate the games each night, she says. But there's a particular need for face-painters willing to spend an evening "bringing the fantasies of the children to life on cheeks, hands and other body parts."
Prospective volunteers and anyone else with questions can contact Miller by telephoning 693-9410 or by e-mailing to the St. John Community Foundation.

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