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Cruz Bay
Saturday, December 9, 2023


Feb. 18, 2002 – The fourth annual Drug Free Cultural Bazaar brought entertainment, color, music and dancing to Frenchtown Monday as hundreds flocked to the Joseph Aubain Ballpark to celebrate Presidents Day in a special way.
Sort of a daytime version of the annual "Night Out Against Drugs," the event attracted children of all ages — playing steelpans, dancing, and just running around gobbling chicken legs and pates and, if they were lucky, getting a bright yellow cotton candy from Delores Thomas, who was staffing one of the Law Enforcement Planning Commission booths.
The LEPC and the V.I. National Guard sponsored the event, in conjunction with an impressive list of government and private organizations, including the Human Services Department's Mental Health Division, Kidscope, the U.S. Customs Explorers and the Junior Firefighters, who dotted the ballfield in their bright yellow shirts.
VING Sgt. Nina Brewley, one of the organizers, looked on the crowd approvingly. "This is the first year we haven't held it at the armory, and we have lots more booths and people," she said. "We want to get the message across — you can have fun, lots of fun, without drugs. We want to get the kids before it is too late."
Glancing at a booth sponsored by the Committee to Revive our Culture, Brewley added, "We want to draw the entire family, have something for everybody."
There was indeed something for everybody. The culture booth was filled with history, tangible history. Cast iron "gooses," precursors of today's steam irons, sat side by side with coal pots of varying sizes, all manner of dishes, and a yellow can of KLIM, ("milk" spelled backward), the old powdered-milk standby. "First you mix the milk," a schoolgirl explained of the old technique, "and then you use the can as a cup."
Finger bananas, eggplants, mustard greens, green tomatoes and small red peppers adorned a table nearby where Bordeaux farmer Elridge Thomas greeted a would-be buyer. "Oh no," he said, "they're not for sale; they're to look, just look."
Thomas explained: "This is for everybody who couldn't go the Ag Fair on St. Croix this weekend. We've got to show them we have produce, too." But he reminded his visitor, "Remember, we have our ag fair soon." Not too soon; the annual event on the grounds of the Reichhold Center for the Arts takes place in November.
Tables surrounding the field were laden with information on preventing drug abuse and educational materials illustrating the LEPC concept "Prevention is the key to being drug free."
"Our purpose is to offer alternatives to drugs — for instance, the Customs Explorers or the Junior Firefighters, learning at a boxing clinic, playing in a steelband, learning things," LEPC's Delores Thomas said. "We do activities. Last year, we took groups to Lameshur Bay on St. John to study marine life."
LEPC provides federal funding to local agencies for initiatives to reduce crime and drug violence and sponsors the local observance of the national "Night Out Against Drugs."
As children had their faces brightly painted with octopuses, butterflies and whimsical creatures by Patrice Scarbriel, the 73rd Army National Guard Band played from a bandstand in the center of the field. And then the dancing started.
The Charlotte Amalie High School Afro-Antillean Spanish Dancers put on a lively display, followed by the Lockhart Elementary School Quadrille Dancers, many of whom were barely 3 feet tall. Dressed in grown-up black pants and white shirts, the youngsters took their dancing very seriously, somberly offering a hand to their partners as they executed their steps. Once the dance was over, though, giggles and little impromptu hops broke out at the applause.
One guest Brewley hadn't counted on, or at least planned for, garnered a lot of attention. "Pebbles," a 6-week-old white piglet, replete with bougainvillea in its collar and magenta nail polish on its toes, was carried around in a basket by its surrogate mom, Kathy Turbe. "My kids found it on the road and brought it to me," she said, "so now it's part of the family."
Highlighting a welcome from the sponsors was a mini-parade featuring the Stunts and Twirlers Majorettes stepping out in bright silver and maroon outfits in a warm-up for Carnival 2002. The steel bands were well represented, with the Joseph Sibilly School Sun Rays at the ballpark entrance and the V.I. Housing Authority band keeping the beat at the other end of the ballpark
The event was supposed to run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., but nobody wanted to leave, and music could be heard wafting its way through Frenchtown well after the appointed ending hour.

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