Dec. 6, 2004 More vendors, more entertainment and mocko jumbies becoming pied pipers are all part of the plans formalized by the executive committee of the Frederiksted Economic Development Association Monday for cruise-ship visits to St. Croix.
Pending dredging of shallow areas around the Ann E. Abramson pier, bunkering calls for Dec. 7 and 14 have been canceled by Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. However, Wednesday's visit of the Norwegian Dawn is still a go. FEDA officials say the cancellation gives them more time to produce a quality product for passengers.
"FEDA accepted the challenge to put on the Crucian Cultural Bazaar," said Rupert Ross, the organization's president. "It's going to be a great event for visitors and locals alike. It will meet the standards that FEDA has set in producing Sunset Jazz, the July 4 Emancipation Celebration, the VI/PR Friendship Day Celebration and other such activities."
The Port Authority Governing Board met last week in special session to address problems experienced by the mega ships while berthing in Frederiksted. The 1,000-foot-long Voyager of the Seas did not have sufficient clearance when it pulled into the West End pier. The board unanimously voted to hire a contractor to dredge the area as soon as possible. Estimated cost of the project is $500,000.
Rick Carrington, Department of Tourism visitor's bureau manager and community liaison assigned to FEDA, said surveying of the area to be dredged began today.
The berthing issues do not affect the smaller ships.
Ross said passengers and residents can look forward to more vendors and bands, cultural activities and a mini farmers market strictly for locals. Visitors are not allowed to carry agricultural items on the ships. The committee also plans to place spotlighting in strategic locations to highlight cultural dancers.
Business in the cultural bazaar zone, which encompasses a six-block area of Strand and King Street from Custom Street to Hill Street, will be marked with rope lighting and additional lighting will be placed around the town. Frederiksted businesses are contributing to the electricity costs.
The Good Hope School art class will be painting a mural depicting carnival revelers, mocko jumbies and other cultural scenes on a wooden barrier recently erected on the Cintron Building across from 69 King Street.
Committee member John Abramson said 40 vendors selling cultural items have signed up for Wednesday's cruise-ship visit. "And we have space for 60," Abramson said. In addition, food and truck vendors will be set up on the northern end of King Street. As an incentive to vendors, FEDA is waiving the $35 dollar nightly fee. "We will be collecting Sunday night's fee on Wednesday evening," Abramson said. The Serenade of the Sea will bunker in Frederiksted from 7 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 12.
Eugene "Doc" Petersen is in charge of entertainment for the committee. "We have four bands, mocko jumbies, carnival troupes, African dancers and the St. Croix Heritage Dancers in place for the visit," Petersen said. He is still soliciting cultural groups to perform.
The committee is planning a grand culmination to the night's festivities. The passengers have to be back on the ship at a specific time. "We are going to dance the passengers back to the ship led by a troupe of mocko jumbies," committee member Unise Tranberg said. "It will be like the pied piper."
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