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NIGHT OUT ENJOYED BY HUNDREDS IN FRENCHTOWN

Aug. 8, 2002 – The band played, the dancers danced, chicken legs and johnny cakes were gobbled up as hundreds celebrated Tuesday night at Joseph Aubain Ballpark. And not a drink of rum in sight.
The merry crowd gathered at the ballpark for the 15th annual Virgin Islands Night Out Against Crime, Drugs and Violence, which is the territory's name for the national citizen initiative called National Night Out. The normally brisk rum business at the concession stand was replaced with sodas, juice and bottled water, as children from two years old to 18, threw frisbees, danced and played in the inflatable balloon tent.
The youngsters, or at least the ones more than seven or eight years old, stopped their antics to listen to Eddy Charles, the governor's drug policy advisor and Law Enforcement Planning Commission director, as he explained the significance of the event.
Charles told them "We cannot stand by and let drugs continue to ruin the lives of our future leaders." He said the community must work together to shed some light on the drug and crime problems.
And many community organizations were there to help people learn how to do just that. Narcotics Anonymous, had a booth with literature on its assisted self-help program; the American Red Cross booth handed out free condoms; and the local Mental Health Alcohol and Drug Dependency Service handed out pamphlets, as did St. Thomas Rescue.
All sorts of people showed up for the annual affair, generating the sense of community which the program seeks to revive. And, being election year, the event was not without a smattering of candidates – Senatorial aspirant Louis Hill, and Sen. Adlah "Foncie Donastorg mingled with the crowd – and many, many political T-shirts showed up among the "Night Out 2002" shirts.
Maria Brady was there with a four-month island newcomer, attorney Mark Wallace, law enforcement coordinator in the U. S. Attorney's office. "I really love the island," said a grinning Wallace as he surveyed the happy crowd. "I'd only been here once before on my interview," he said, adding the move from Washington, D. C. had been a "good one."
Seven-year-old Avon Crossley was more interested in learning how to swing a giant hammer and ring a bell for a prize, than the ongoing speeches. The Wesleyan third grader, and her mother, were really awaiting the performance of her 12-year-old sister, Kenisha, a step dancer with the Police Athletic League summer camp ensemble.
And step they did. However, since they were performing on the grass field, the announcer noted the dance wouldn't have the full effect. That was of no concern to the huge circle of admirers, who cheered the girls on, clapping and chanting along with them.
The National Night Out website www.nat.org says more than 33 million people in 9,700 states, territories and Canada, joined together Tuesday to spread the message to criminals letting them know that communities and neighborhoods are organized and are fighting back.
They demonstrated with block parties, cookouts, ice cream socials, front porch "lights on"vigils, flashlight walks, safety fairs, essay contests, or just an old-fashioned ballpark get together in Frenchtown, USVI.

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