June 28, 2002 – Cruz Bay was jumping Friday night as residents and visitors gathered for the opening of the St. John Festival Village — named this year in honor of former senator Cleone Creque.
The four-term lawmaker, who left office in the mid-1980s, said she was surprised and shocked to learn that the St. John Festival and Cultural Organization committee had chosen to name the village Crequeville. "I'm honored," she said, adding that she was delighted to see her classmates from the Charlotte Amalie High School Class of 1955 on hand to help her enjoy the tribute.
Dressed in a silver pantsuit, she drew accolades from the host of politicians and festival officials who graced the bougainvillea- and balloon-bedecked stage for the opening ceremony.
"I'm standing on the shoulders of Cleone Creque," Sen. Almando "Rocky" Liburd said as public officials, festival royalty and slews of other people gathered in the Port Authority parking lot for the village opening.
Creque, who also held various other V.I. government positions, now owns Creque's Funeral Home on St. Thomas. An early supporter of St. John's annual summer celebration, she served as committee chair in the 1960s. She said the event has its roots in the 1940s, when residents gathered with British Virgin Islanders to play cricket in Coral Bay.
Then the festivities moved to Cruz Bay, with students from what was then known as the Cruz Bay School taking an active part. "It was a real patriotic affair," she recalled Friday.
While the festival has grown tremendously, the same reason still brings people out to the village. "I'm looking for the food," St. John resident Jackie Clendinen said. She didn't have far to look. About 20 booths ringed the parking lot, each cook serving up her or his specialty. "Conch, chicken, whelks, fried fish, seafood kallaloo," 10-year-old Mava Dagou ticked off. touting the taste treats for sale at booth No. 6.
Harold Christian was there to catch up with his classmates from Charlotte Amalie's Class of 1962. His brother, Alvis Christian, said the annual festival is the happiest time on St. John. "I can't miss it," he said, adding that he planned to stay out Friday until at least midnight.
St. John resident Andromeada Childs said she wouldn't miss the opening night for the world. "It signifies the beginning of the festivities leading up to the Fourth," she said, referring to the July 4 finale with the annual J'Ouvert, parade and fireworks all rolled into one day.
While the adults gathered at Crequeville, a good smattering of the island's younger set made their way to the annual Children's Village on the V.I. National Park grounds. Jevon Brooks, 10, from St. John, said he liked playing the racing car game that attracted a good dozen boys. St. John resident Kaleel Baron, who was watching the race cars, said Jam Band's evening performance in the village was what brought him out.
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