Oct. 28, 2004 Crucians anticipating the upcoming Christmas festival will meet a change in venue and a reduction in the length of the festivities. Crucian Christmas Festival committee members hope these changes can increase the amount of money the St. Croix festival generates and reduce the staggering debt owed to vendors and other entertainment providers.
Committee members on Wednesday announced a decision to transfer the parades and festivities to Frederiksted. Members cited several factors, mainly space availability and profitability.
Festival village, parades and related activities traditionally switch each year from Christiansted to Frederiksted. Last year the festival was held in Frederiksted.
Lenise M. Hunt, CCF president, announced the changes at a press conference held in the committee's Estate Barren Spot office. Hunt said the construction of a new recreation facility at the D.C. Canegata Ball Park infringes on the space normally available for the Christensted festival village, compromising the profitability of the festival, and that is why the change was made.
"We made assessments of the space. We met several times to see how the space could be utilized," Hunt said.
Hunt said the committee found that they would have to reduce the number of booths, vendors and carnival rides to locate in Christensted.
"We would have to cut back. We would have a loss of revenues," Hunt said. "We found that Frederiksted is more conducive to festival activities. We cannot afford to have a loss."
Housing Parks and Recreation began construction on the recreational center in August 2003. The center will be equipped with weight and exercise rooms, a playroom, study rooms, computer lab, clinic, office spaces, restrooms and showers. The building can also be the venue for plays, concerts and even an emergency shelter. Scheduled completion date for the project is December 2004.
CCF members also looked at other locations before settling on Frederiksted's Paul E. Joseph stadium and grounds. Hunt said they asked Agriculture Commissioner Dr. Lawrence Lewis if they could use the fairgrounds.
"He did not say we could not use it but he expressed concern over the financial cost associated with preparing the space for a festival village," said Hunt.
The committee also announced the number of days the festival village would be open has been reduced from 14-16 days to 10 days. "This will improve the quality of entertainment in the village and save money," said Hunt. She also said the committee is considering activities to attract teenagers, such as a roller-skating rink.
Hunt said the festival committee is $68,000 in the red. She said so far, the committee has not received government funding for the 2004-2005 season. In addition, funds have not been forthcoming from private donations. Hunt said the committee has not held any fund-raising activities since the close of the 2003-2004 festival activities.
Last May, Hunt and other CCF members voluntarily opened their books before the Senate Finance committee chaired by Sen. Adlah "Foncie" A. Donastorg Jr. (See "Bounced Checks, Unpaid Debt Mar Crucian Festival").
St. Croix Administrator Gregory Francis also attended the press conference and confirmed the commitment of the government to fund the festival. Although Francis admitted he does not know the exact figure of the government's contribution, he said, "the government has a responsibility to support festival." He called for volunteers to step forward and assist the committee to make this festival bigger and better.
Hunt says it is imperative that the community gets involved: "We want to develop awareness and encourage others to do their part," she said.
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