Although the official swearing-in took place Monday on St. Thomas, the St. Croix post-inauguration ceremony Tuesday of Gov. Kenneth Mapp and Lt. Gov. Osbert Potter came with its own pomp and circumstance.
The day’s events began with a church service at the Miracle Revival Tabernacle Church that delayed the start of the ceremony in Buddhoe Park by more than an hour and threw the parade behind schedule. The park was filled with residents and curious cruise ship passengers – many of shorts clad tourists mingled and took video of the entire event.
The new governor and lieutenant governor arrived in their official cars accompanied by police and emergency vehicles – sirens blaring – and a line of commissioners in their cars. The Buddhoe Park gazebo, draped in red, white and blue bunting, was expanded to accommodate the dignitaries and guests.
Mapp and Potter, smiling frequently, arrived last and spoke to the crowd thanking supporters.
Mapp followed the theme of his inauguration day address promising to improve the quality of life for Virgin Islanders, especially seniors and the youth.
The Mapp administration plans to build infrastructure and put people to work.
The governor spoke of transparency and accepting the responsibility to make the necessary changes. He said he is willing to learn and listen and expects his administration to work long and hard and motivate their staff.
“I’m going to work hard to advance the well being of each island but I’m going to pay special attention to the needs of St. Croix,” he said to applause and loud cheers. “I’m ready to go to work.”
Potter said he understands the magnitude of the responsibility and will represent every Virgin Islander, even those who didn’t vote for him. He also mentioned the elderly and said they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. They will “be taken care of immediately,” he promised.
Potter said young people need training, education and jobs as “a formula” to counteract the high crime rate.
“I ran for lieutenant governor because I feel I can make a big difference in this community. No way I’m going to let you down,” Potter said.
Emile Henderson, III, was the master of ceremonies. Gov. Mapp’s brother, Douglas Mapp, and Potter’s daughter, Dykisha, spoke about their relatives.
Henderson greeted the crowd and flowers were presented to the Mapp’s mother, Vashti Mapp, two of Potter’s daughters – Dyonna and Dykisha – and other supporters, including a former first lady, Mrs. Juan Luis.
Interspersed in the program was music by the Army National Guard Band and selections sung by Lorna Freeman.
The ceremony was interrupted by the military parade scheduled to arrive earlier. Mapp, Potter and Gen. Renaldo Rivera, V.I. National Guard adjutant, watched the marching uniformed personnel from the armed services, both high school marching bands, Salvation Army, R.O.T.C., the Tuskegee Airmen and others.