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Santa and First Lady Spread Crucian Christmas Cheer

Dec. 14, 2007 — First lady Cecile deJongh threw a big Christmas party for St. Croix Thursday and Friday, bringing young children together for food, fun and a visit from Santa Claus.
The guest list for two days of festivities in Christiansted and Frederiksted included some of the youngest people on St. Croix. All pre-kindergarten to second grade children in the island's private and public schools were on the list. Students from 26 schools took part.
Christiansted's waterfront hosted one of the gatherings. The Christmas winds blew brisk and cool. DJ Myron played a lively Crucian version of "Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer." At Customs House, volunteers ate traditional Crucian holiday fare. In the bandstand, Santa Claus and the first lady gave a gift to each child.
Santa's helpers kept busy working in stations. Santa and the first lady had helpers handling logistics during the two days of events — welcoming helpers and line-coordinator helpers. Some helped boys and girls write their wish lists. Some organized gift distribution. There was a tent with a dancing clown to get the kids psyched to see the jolly old elf, also known as Dale Mason.
The first lady said she wanted to be sure each child got a gift, and she personally helped Santa give them out. During the two days they handed out 2,600 red, green, gold and blue metallic gift bags containing puzzles, handheld computers and Dora the Explorer games. Hess Corporation, through the action of its chairman, John B. Hess, donated 1,000 Hess toy trucks to the Office of the Governor for distribution at the Christmas parties.
All the gifts were donations from the public and private sector. Territory wide, Santa will distribute 6,000 gifts at the parties.
During early planning stages in August, the first lady said she thought they would go to all the schools, but realized logistically the green was better. Organizers hired taxi drivers to pick up some of the students.
Volunteers numbered close to 150. People saw how much fun the party in Frederiksted was and wanted to help in Christiansted, said Adda Brooks, one of the coordinators. The first lady makes a difference, Brooks said, "That's why she gets help." Volunteers made 2,000 turkey, cheese and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches beginning at 5 a.m. both days.
"I am amazed and thankful for the number of volunteers and helpers," deJongh said. "The parties were well organized, structured and fun. Even the rain yesterday in Frederiksted didn't dampen spirits."
The first lady will host Christmas parties Monday and Tuesday in Emancipation Garden on St. Thomas.
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