June 30, 2005 St. John resident Sonia Sprauve is a familiar face at July 4th Celebration events. So familiar, in fact, that the St. John Festival and Cultural Organization designated her as the honoree of its June 26 Food Fair.
Sprauve, 53, said she'll be at her table in Cruz Bay Park selling hot sauce and crafts throughout the celebration.
"I love arts and crafts, and it gives me the opportunity to make a few dollars," she said.
She sells things like magnets, ornaments and shell-encrusted picture frames.
Sprauve said she started doing arts and crafts to fill in the time after she was injured 10 years ago in a car accident, while driving a government vehicle.
She said she likes selling at the island's craft fairs because she gets to meet people from all over, as well as visit with people she hasn't seen in years.
Telling stories about the people she meets, she said one man even returned the next day to take her picture.
St. John Administrator Julien Harley called Sprauve a person with a big heart. He said that her interest in cultural things is important because people in Sprauve's generation and younger aren't often interested in preserving the island's culture.
"Hopefully, she will pass it on," he said.
She also sings — a gift she said she got from her father, the late Herman Sprauve. She sings regularly at events like the Food Fair. And she said, at the last minute she sang the National Anthem and the V.I. anthem at the recent queen show.
"I was always willing to sing on the spur of the moment," she said.
Sprauve was born on St. John, went to elementary school on the East End, at Guy Benjamin School and at Julius E. Sprauve School. She went off to Charlotte Amalie High School on St. Thomas, finishing up at the Keystone Job Corps Center in Drums, Penn.
After that, she held jobs at the Finance Department on St. Thomas, went off to live in Florida for a spell, then returned home to work for the Human Services Department.
She's now a property management technician at the V.I. Housing Authority, but she retired June 30 so she can take care of medical problems related to the 1995 car accident.
"My back and my knees are messed up," she said.
She's mother to two grown daughters, Tishelle Knight and Kimberly Boyd.
Both also sing, with Knight the lead singer in Cool Sessions Brass and Boyd a participant several years ago in the Starfest shows.
She has one granddaughter, Tajmah Knight, 12, who is a student at Sprauve School.
Like many lifelong St. John residents, she has plenty of opinions on St. John's rapid growth.
"I don't like it. It's getting too congested, and the traffic is bad," she said.
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