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Festival's Youngsters Prove Deserving of the Royal Treatment

Dec. 4, 2006 — The youngest members of festival royalty were crowned this past weekend as the first events marking the Crucian Christmas Festival began.
"Celebrating our Heritage with a Cultural Blend" is the theme for this year's festival, and Sunday at Island Center for the Performing Arts, the duchess, prince and princess were crowned in front of a very enthusiastic audience. Contestants modeled cultural costumes and a variety of other attire, showcased their talent and answered questions on their favorite things and plans for the festival.
Duchess contestants Keshaundia Quinn and Azhanea Wathey stole the hearts of the crowd with their poise and eloquence.
Florida-born Quinn, 6, utilized elaborate costumes and youthful poise to capture the runner-up position. In her cultural costume, Quinn maneuvered a large madras skirt on wheels with a cardboard mate attached to the apparatus. She came out from behind the skirt revealing another costume emblazoned with St. Kitts and Puerto Rico flags to emphasize the blending of cultures within the islands.
The four-year-old winner, Wathey, wowed audiences with her adorable nature. Bowing gracefully in her white-lace-and-pearl party dress, the littlest contestant generated the loudest applause from the audience. Wathey's smile and astonishing speaking ability gained her many "aahs" and "she's so precious" remarks from the audience.
Wathey's supporters were evident within the crowd as they sported printed T-shirts crowning her duchess even before the competition got under way.
Prince and princess runners-up, Biko McMillan and Kyanna Christian, told audience members they wanted to be medical professionals — a surgeon and veterinarian, respectively — when they grew up.
The 10- and 11-year-old contestants performed a skit helping the audience ready themselves for upcoming festival events. McMillan played his ukulele as Christian sang a traditional Crucian Christmas song in front of an elaborate replica of the festival's food fair with re-creations of Feed I's homemade drinks, Sweets by Laverne and Gloria's Kitchen.
When asked how they would represent Crucians during the festival, Christian said, "with pride, dignity and sincerity." McMillan emphasized the importance of tourism and hospitality for the season. "We would welcome visitors to St. Croix to experience our hospitality and share our unique cultural blend," he said.
The winning prince and princess, Myles Ventura and Makeda Turbe, chose to honor our troops in their introductory presentation. Standing tall and proud, the two delivered their performance with flair and a touch of comedy.
In their talent portion of the competition, the couple blended mixtures of Crucian and Puerto Rican cultures, as magician Myles revived cultural doll Makeda for a carnival party.
The couple told the audience their favorite part of festival: "I enjoy most seeing our people come together as one under the Caribbean sun," Turbe said. Ventura kept his answer light, telling the audience he liked "sweet calypso music and a nice plate of chicken leg and Johnny cake."
Entertainment was provided by Exclusive dancers, who gave the audience dance styles varying from interpretative dance to hip-hop. Masters of Ceremonies Ronelle Parris and Jose Navarro entertained the audience by modeling their outfits, dancing and singing.
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