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FRIENDSHIP DAY IS DAMP BUT WELL-RECEIVED

June 24, 2001- Showers briefly interrupted but failed to spoil the annual Friendship Day ceremonies hosted this year by the U.S. Virgin Islands government and attended by a British Virgin Islands delegation of 60 visiting dignitaries.
A crowd of over 250 viewed the public ceremony and entertainment in Emancipation Garden Saturday morning. The 73rd Army National Guard Band played the anthems of both states, and BVI Gov. Francis J. Savage joined Gov. Charles W. Turnbull in reviewing a National Guard honor guard formation.
"The purpose of these visits is to strengthen yet further the excellent relations which exist between the BVI and the USVI," Savage said, "and to build more bridges between our two communities."
Turnbull praised the BVI's ongoing hurricane awareness and pledged, "The United States Virgin Islands Emergency Management Agency, VITEMA, will always be available in times of disaster and other emergencies to help our friends and neighbors in the British Virgin Islands in all ways possible."
However, Sen. Almando "Rocky" Liburd, president of the 24th Legislature, alluded to areas of disagreement between the neighboring states. "We are going to have a lot of discussions today," he told the dignitaries, "and I hope that out of that the next time we come together, we'll be a little better off."
The BVI deputy chief minister, J. Alvin Christopher, offered apologies from Chief Minister Ralph O'Neal, who is in Great Britain, and expressed gratitude for the "medical services" available in the USVI to BVI citizens. Among issues of mutual interest to both governments, he cited "our shared fight against drug trafficking and money laundering."
A heartfelt spiritual sung by Lee' Chyler Jean Baptiste, a Class of 2001 graduate of Ivanna Eudora Kean High School, drew enthusiastic applause. Lockhart Elementary School students who presented quadrille dancing in traditional costumes and a pantomimed musical skit were also crowd pleasers.
Other officials at the ceremony included Lt. Gov. Gerard Luz James II; his BVI counterpart, Deputy Gov. M. Elton Georges; and Sens. Lorraine Berry, Carlton Dowe and Norma Samuel-Pickard.
The National Guard band provided music to conclude the program as dignitaries from both governments departed for a luncheon at the Marriott Frenchman's Reef Beach Resort.

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