Parents, children and representatives from various V.I. emergency service agencies gathered on St. John Saturday to celebrate the start of National Safe Boating Week.
Safe Boating Week is a time to remind water enthusiasts about all the precautions necessary to stay safe while having fun. It is observed throughout the United States and its territories.
Saturday’s festivities included a boat parade, a life preserver fashion show and several rescue demonstrations. There were also chances to win free life preservers, information on preserving sensitive marine life while in the water and even goody bags for the children in attendance. Organizers said they wanted to hammer home the importance of education and life preservers.
“Take advantage of every educational opportunity that is available to you today,” said Kevin Matthews, boating safety coordinator for the Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR).
Austin Callwood, director of DPNR Enforcement, said that although the territory’s perpetually warm climate means there is no start and end of boating season like there is on the mainland, it still marks a time where people here need to be more aware: the approaching hurricane season.
“Today starts a time that we look again at our engines, our water vessels,” he said.
Callwood also noted that the life preserver has come a long way from the bulky, cumbersome apparatus of the past. “There really are no excuses for not wearing your life jacket,” he said, noting that some options can be comfortable and even stylish.
Saturday’s event was sponsored by the DPNR, the U.S. Coast Guard, the National Park Service, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, U.S. Power Squadron and the V.I. Police Department.
National Safe Boating Week is observed from May 22 to May 29.