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Celebrating Hispanic Culture on St. Croix in October

The Latin spirit will fill St. Croix more than usual the next couple of weeks, with a family fun day, a parade, commemorative awards, music and more, all commemorating the territory’s many ties to its Spanish-speaking neighbor for the 49th annual Virgin Islands – Puerto Rico Friendship celebration.

Puerto Ricans have been a significant part of U.S. Virgin Islands society, and especially St. Croix’s, for well over a century. Some celebrations and pageants occurred as early as 1960, when the first VI-PR Friendship Queen, Nereida Santos, was named, according to information from the VI-PR Friendship Committee.

The celebration became official in 1964 when Gov. Ralph Paiewonsky signed an act changing what was formerly known as Columbus Day to Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico Friendship Day.

Celebrations began in earnest with a special Thanksgiving church service last Sunday. And this coming Sunday, the ARMAPAVIE ballfield on Hovensa Road past Carib Do It Center will host La Fiesta en el Batey.

La Fiesta en el Batey is a free family fun day from noon to 5 p.m. on the ballfield whose name is formed from the letters of some of the countries that are part of St. Croix’s Hispanic community. Music, dance, performances by school children, exhibits, arts and crafts, children’s games, demonstrations, vendors and lots of Crucian and Puerto Rican food will be on hand.

La Parada de la Hispanidad, a loud, joyous parade celebrating Hispanic culture, will be held Oct. 11 beginning around 11 a.m. at Bassin Triangle, running to Christiansted and to the Christian "Shan" Hendricks Vegetable Market. That evening, Government House will host a private ceremony honoring outstanding members of the Hispanic and Puerto Rican community on St. Croix.

On Oct. 11, the Randall Doc. James Racetrack will hold the VIPR Horse Race Classic. Festivities come to a close Oct. 17, with a second special Sunset Jazz event in Frederiksted.

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