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Locals and Visitors Alike on Hand to Celebrate Village Opening

June 28, 2005 –– Folks from far and near gathered Tuesday at Cruz Bay parking lot to celebrate the opening of Henleyville, the island's July 4th Celebration Village named in honor of long-time event supporter Floresia Henley.
Henley, who works for the Human Services Department, said St. John was special because it helps itself. Talking about the July 4th Celebration's early days, she said people gathered at Pond Mouth for fish fries.
"We didn't look to the government," she said.
St. John Administrator Julien Harley had nice words for Henley. He said that although Henley was born on Tortola, she was more a St. Johnian than people who laid claim to that title.
St. Luce Baptiste might just get the honors for traveling the most distance for the village opening. The Dominica native now living in London trekked over from visiting family on St. Thomas.
"This my first time to the Virgin Islands, but I'd like to come back," he said as the Love City Pan Dragons entertained with their steel pan music.
Newlyweds Vanessa and Jonathan Ruffer of Grand Rapids, Mich. wandered through the village as they waited for the festivities to begin. Jonathan Ruffer is no stranger to St. John –– his grandparents are winter residents Elsbeth and Walter Ruffer, but Vanessa Ruffer said this was her first visit.
St. John resident Sam Morch, busy greeting friends, said he was a bit nostalgic because this was probably his last July 4th Celebration. At 80, he's moving from his native island to Silver Spring, Md. to help his wife with their grandchildren.
Deputy Public Works Commissioner Ira Wade was on hand with his daughter, Shalise, 8.
Wade said he was there to make sure the garbage and public restrooms were under control and to bring his daughter.
"I came out like everybody else – to enjoy myself," he said.
Lt. Gov. Vargrave Richards said he expected his waistline to increase by the time the July 4th Celebration wraps up.
"I enjoy these things because I get to sample the food I don't get every day," he said.
Henleyville remains open through July 4th.
The children's village, located near the Creek bulkhead, opens Wednesday. It runs through July 3.

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