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Alayah Watley, Khari Newton, and Marley Robinson: New Royalty of Crucian Christmas Festival

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The Crucian Christmas Festival Village burst into a vibrant celebration of culture and youth on Tuesday, with the crowning of its new carnival royalty – encompassing roles of Prince, Princess, Duchess, Duke, and Jr. Miss.

The event commenced with the young contestants delivering their introductory speeches, setting the stage for the eagerly anticipated question and answer round. In the Jr. Miss category, 17-year-old Jayla Newton and Alayah Watley showcased their eloquence and spontaneity. Newton highlighted the challenges of technology-related bullying, emphasizing its impact on mental health. Watley, on the other hand, focused on the issue of violence among her peers.

The Duke category featured five-year-old Khari Newton from Eulalie Rivera Elementary School, who charmingly spoke about his snack-giving favorite teacher. Ray Anthony Brown, a Claude O. Markoe Elementary School student, praised his teacher for the challenging work that aids academic achievement.

Duchess contestant Marley Robinson expressed admiration for her helpful teacher at Ricardo Richards Elementary School. Seven-year-old Re’khia Peterson and Jaelyn Rodriguez, from St. Patrick’s Catholic School, also shared their appreciation for their teachers, highlighting the positive impact on their learning experiences.

The audience was then treated to a musical interlude, with performances by the young vocalist Avery and the dynamic Juego, each delivering captivating renditions.

In the swimsuit segment, the Jr. Miss contestants adhered to strict guidelines ensuring modesty. Newton’s suit, symbolizing a Virgin Islands sunset, and Watley’s fiery red attire with a Virgin Islands eagle crest coverup, were standout pieces.

The “fun fashion” segment allowed contestants to express school spirit and creative flair. Khari Newton’s “Super Khari” and Ray Anthony Brown’s “Go Ray Ray Go” characters celebrated Crucian culture and school life. Duchess contestants embraced themes from Red Riding Hood to Tahitian princess, showcasing transformative and colorful outfits.

The Jr. Miss contestants shone in their “old Hollywood” themed attire, with Newton in a plaid-accented white satin ensemble and Watley in a pearl-embellished yellow jumpsuit with a plaid-lined cape.

The platform presentations highlighted their commitment to community projects. Newton’s “Safe Space Project” proposed mentorship and empathy-building workshops, while Watley’s “Read Between the Signs” aimed to foster American Sign Language learning among high schoolers, enhancing understanding of the Hard of Hearing and deaf communities.

The night culminated in the crowning of the winners amid enthusiastic support from the audience. Khari Newton, Marley Robinson, and Alayah Watley were declared St. Croix Festival Duke, Duchess, and Jr. Miss for 2023, respectively, with prizes to be distributed throughout their reign.

Deputy Commissioner of Tourism Shamari Haynes emphasized the event’s significance in making the festival village a focal point for the Crucian Christmas Festival, heralding a future rich in cultural celebration and community engagement.

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Celebrating Dominican Independence with Vibrant Festivities in St. Croix

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The vibrant celebration of the Dominican Republic’s 180th independence anniversary, traditionally marked on February 27, found a jubilant expression in St. Croix this Sunday, February 26. This year’s event, the 15th of its kind on the island, was a colorful testament to the rich cultural heritage of the Dominican Republic, featuring traditional attire, music, and an array of significant traditions from the DR, alongside a demonstration of the community’s increasing economic influence.

Kicking off at the historic Basin Triangle in Christiansted, the parade made its way to Canegata Ballpark. The event culminated in a festive ceremony attended by dignitaries and community members alike, with local vendors offering a taste of Dominican cuisine and culture. The parade showcased an array of cultural expressions, from traditional masquerade costumes and local majorette performances to bikers and bands, drawing together a wide spectrum of the community.

The Dominican community’s presence in St. Croix is not just a cultural showcase but a burgeoning economic force. Dominicans have been instrumental in diversifying the business landscape of the USVI, making significant contributions to sectors such as construction, food and beverage, and beauty, and holding influential positions within the government.

Senator Samuel Carrion, proud of his Puerto Rican and Dominican heritage, highlighted the Dominican community’s integral role in the economic and cultural fabric of the Virgin Islands. “The Virgin Islands is a melting pot, and St. Croix, in particular, is enriched by the diversity of Caribbean cultures and beyond,” he observed. The senator eloquently traced the historical ties and migrations between the Virgin Islands and the Dominican Republic, underscoring the interconnectedness and shared heritage that bind these communities together.

“The celebration of Dominican Independence Day here is a vibrant affirmation of our shared Caribbean identity, showcasing the ways in which Dominican traditions and contributions have become woven into the fabric of Virgin Islander society,” Carrion added, acknowledging the hardworking Dominican entrepreneurs and community members who enrich the islands’ social and economic landscape.

Bion Lorenzo, President of the DR Independence Celebration Committee, spoke to the growing influence of the Dominican community, not only in business but also in the fabric of family and societal integration within the USVI. He projected a future where the voices of Virgin Islanders with Dominican ancestry will increasingly resonate in the territory’s democratic processes.

Senator Kenneth Gittens expressed his admiration and support for the Dominican community, noting their vital contribution to the cultural and economic vitality of the Virgin Islands. “As we celebrate the rich tapestry of cultures that make up our community, the Dominican Republic’s independence anniversary is a joyous occasion that underscores our collective heritage and the bonds of friendship and unity that we cherish,” Gittens remarked, looking forward to celebrating VI-PR Friendship Day later in the year with the same spirit of inclusivity and community.

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Na’Zirah Armstrong Triumphs as 2023-2024 Miss St. Croix in Dazzling Pageant Display

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The St. Croix Festival Queen Pageant concluded on Thursday night with a stunning victory for Na’Zirah Armstrong, who was crowned Miss St. Croix for 2023-2024. Demonstrating exceptional poise and grace, Armstrong emerged as the frontrunner in a field of highly talented contestants, ultimately clinching the title.

This event, building on the excitement of the junior royalty crowning earlier in the week, featured four aspiring queens. Each contestant displayed remarkable elegance, skill, and dedication in their pursuit of the crown.

The pageant commenced with a pre-event interview at Government House and progressed to the eagerly anticipated swimsuit round. The segment showcased diverse styles: Tyler Valmont donned a striking pink bejeweled monokini, Chantelle Esprit shone in a purple and teal bedazzled suit, Armstrong impressed with her blue cutout swimsuit adorned with a shimmering geometric pattern, and Alayah Phipps presented a sophisticated monochrome purple suit with sparkling diamanté details.

The ambassadorial platform speeches were a highlight, with contestants delving into the rich cultural heritage of the territory. Valmont, in a conch shell pink attire with VI madras highlights, addressed the importance of preserving heritage amidst gentrification. Esprit, wearing a sophisticated purple dress, proposed enhancing St. Croix’s appeal through local cuisine and cultural activities.

Armstrong, elegantly attired in a red dress with madras trim, passionately spoke about fostering cultural awareness and artistic involvement among adolescents. Phipps, in a white and madras-trimmed dress, focused on educational reforms and youth engagement in cultural preservation.

In addition to the cultural wear, talent, and evening wear segments, the event was graced by appearances from the newly crowned St. Croix Festival Duke & Duchess. The contestants faced an on-stage Q&A session, where Valmont reflected on advice for her younger self, Esprit tackled the issue of domestic violence prevention, Armstrong emphasized the uniqueness of St. Croix’s culture, and Phipps advocated for promoting cultural events.

The competition culminated in the crowning moment, with Shantalle Espirit taking fourth place, Tyler Valmont achieving third, Alayah Phipps as the first runner-up, and Na’Zirah Armstrong being adorned with the Miss St. Croix 2023-2024 crown, marking a memorable end to a night filled with pageantry and cultural celebration.

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St. Croix’s 2023-2024 Calypso Monarch Finals Rescheduled for New Year’s Day at Island Center

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The esteemed St. Croix Calypsonians United has recently revealed a rescheduled date for the much-anticipated 2023-2024 Calypso Monarch Finals. Originally slated for December 27 at Festival Village, the event faced postponement due to unresolved discussions with participating calypsonians. This led to its initial cancellation by the Division of Festivals. However, following constructive dialogues, January 1 has been confirmed as the new date for this cultural extravaganza.

The Island Center for the Performing Arts, a venue celebrated for its commitment to the arts, will now host the finals. The event is scheduled to commence at 8:00 p.m., featuring an array of nine talented calypsonians. They will compete for the prestigious title, challenging the current reigning Queen Emogene “Blakness” Creese in a musical battle of wit and rhythm.

Event organizer Dean Baptiste, after extensive negotiations with the Division of Festivals, successfully advocated for a venue change. He expressed his enthusiasm about the new arrangements, emphasizing the importance of community support in realizing this event. “Despite facing some challenges, we are excited to present the Calypso Monarch Finals on the first day of the new year,” Baptiste stated. “We are grateful for the unwavering support of the St. Croix community and are committed to delivering an unforgettable evening of music and cultural celebration.”

Ciga Promotions, a key sponsor of the event, has been commended for their vital role in ensuring the continuity of this year’s competition. Their support underscores the importance of preserving cultural traditions and fostering artistic expression within the community.

In conclusion, St. Croix Calypsonians United eagerly anticipates hosting the community at the Island Center for the Performing Arts. January 1, 2024, marks a significant date, promising an evening filled with exceptional performances and the crowning of the next Calypso Monarch. This event is not only a celebration of music but also a testament to the vibrant cultural heritage of St. Croix.

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