Dec. 9, 2008 – When Santa arrived Tuesday at Cruz Bay Park for the annual Governor's Christmas Party, he brought good cheer for the island's 250 children in pre-kindergarten through grade three.
The students hailed from Julius E. Sprauve School, Guy Benjamin School, Gifft Hill School, and St. John Christian Academy.
"It's important that they all get together. They don't get a chance to mingle. It's a time of sharing," Lucinda Parsons, a Sprauve third grade teacher, said as the students lined up for their visit with Santa.
The St. John youths received a specially-printed copy of "Caribbean Journey from A to Y" by former St. Thomas resident Mario Picayo. They also received a grade-appropriate work book, a juice box and a piece of fruit. All the gifts were tucked into green fabric bags. Every child across the territory who attends the governor's Christmas parties will receive similar gifts.
"It's important to get the kids to read," first lady Cecile deJongh said as she waited for the kids to arrive.
The green bags replace traditional wrapping paper, which went in the trash, and deJongh said she hopes parents will use them for grocery shopping.
"We can use this as a teachable moment," she said.
She said the funding for the Christmas parties was raised from private donations.
The kids were greeted by music, including a catchy tune that urged them to read and recycle. Additionally, Seamore the human-sized turtle put in an appearance.
But it was Santa who got the most attention as he made the rounds of the kids waiting in the park. Later he took a seat on the bandstand to hand out the present-filled bags.
Wearing the traditional red Santa suit, this Santa – who spends the rest of the year as Human Services Commissioner Chris Finch – sported his own beard.
The kids were psyched.
"I'm here to get a present and to see Santa Claus. I'm going to get a Tinkerbell bike," Catisha Marsh, 5, said, referring to what she expects under the Christmas tree at home.
Alas, Jahboiosheh Bruce, 5, claimed he never got any presents.
"Only Spiderman pajamas," he said, as his grandfather, Eddie Bruce, pointed out that he's found a lot more than that under the family Christmas tree.
And, did these students deserve a present from Santa?
"I was good," Kathleen Casimir, 6, said.
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