Home News Local news Street Party for HOVENSA Birthday Brings Back Memories of Harbor Night

Street Party for HOVENSA Birthday Brings Back Memories of Harbor Night


Oct. 28, 2006 — Salsa and calypso sounds filled the air and the smells of johnnycake and pastilles wafted through Frederiksted Saturday as the varied cultures of St. Croix collided into one huge party on Strand Street.
The party came courtesy of HOVENSA, which funded the fete as part of its celebration of 40 years of operation on the island. The Frederiksted Economic Development Association (FEDA) played host, with entertainment provided by Sabor Latino, Stroka Band, Stanley and the Ten Sleepless Knights, the Xpress Band and the Eddie Russell Quelbe Latin Jazz Band.
This should happen all the time, and not because HOVENSA is funding it, said Gary Turner, who moved to the island six years ago from Chicago. This should be an ongoing festivity, not just in Frederiksted, but in Christiansted.
Turner was among the few people who came early to the festivities, which got underway at 5:30. By 7 p.m., hard-to-find parking and long lines of traffic showed that the normally sleepy town of Frederiksted would come alive Saturday night.
As he sipped a Coors Light, Turner said he came for the entertainment.
This is good for the community, he said. This would benefit all Crucians — those of us who were born here, and those of us who decided to call it our home. We all need something to do after a hard days work.
The entertainment lineup also include dance groups and festival troupes in costumes designed to wow the hundreds who converged Saturday night to mingle with friends and sample mouthwatering dishes sold along Strand Street and down various alleyways.
Kimyra McIntosh, 10, had one thing in mind when she persuaded her grandmother to leave their Mon Bijou home and make the 20-mile trek to Frederiksted.
I want to see the fireworks, she said, hoisting two portable chairs on either shoulder before ambling along the Frederiksted waterfront to get just the right spot to place them. Her grandmother, Margaret McIntosh, who has raised Kimyra since she was a one-month old baby, said she would not have come otherwise.
I came because she wants to come see the fireworks, and we dont go out that much, Margaret said. Things like this we try to come to to listen to music and mingle.
She said the street party reminded her of the now-defunct Harbor Night, so she gave it an A-plus.
Its very nice, and its just a good time to sit and relax at the harbor and enjoy myself, Margaret said.
Along Strand Street Saturday night, there was something for everyone.
Food and drink vendors were joined by those hawking arts and crafts, ranging from jewelry fashioned from wood and shells to mahogany carvings and accessories. Some area businesses used the opportunity for free publicity. First Bank, which recently opened in Frederiksted, passed out free pens, key rings and safety kits, among other things, while Auto World decided the way to a crowd's heart was through its stomach.
Owner Richard Kirton and others, including Kathryn Piper, gave away 100 boxes of chicken, complete with potato salad, biscuits and chocolate-chip cookies.
This is a promotion to get our name out there, Kirton said, handing out meals with company flyers enclosed. The company purchased the old Nissan dealership in LaGrande Princesse and, with improvements, plans to reopen under new ownership next month.
Kirton said he couldnt take the credit for what he called an excellent promotional tool, instead giving credit to Piper, who handles the companys advertising. As word spread Saturday, many headed to Kirtons place, and by 7 p.m. more than half the boxes had disappeared.
On the western end of Strand Street, Joffre George, waited for business to pick up. A former Harbor Night participant, George offered picturesque paintings for sale and said it was good to be back.
A street party along the lines of Harbor Night may loom on the horizon for St. Croix, according to Unise Tranberg of FEDA, busy Saturday night making sure that all went well. While George would welcome such an event, he doubts its potential for success without cruise ships.
I will take part because I understand we need to get it reestablished," he said, "but having the cruise ships around like Harbor Night makes it more effective.
During Harbor Night, Strand Street was closed off to traffic from 7 p.m. to midnight while locals and tourists enjoyed native food and drink, purchased locally made crafts and enjoyed entertainment by various bands and mocko jumbies. The last Harbor Night took place about four years ago, when cruise ships stopped coming to Frederiksted.
Sen. Pedro Pete Encarnacion, who played with Mo Tempo Latin Band during the cruise-ship days, enjoyed the party Saturday night with his 10-year-old son, Khyle.
Im here to help celebrate the 40 years HOVENSA has been in the Virgin Islands, particularly on St. Croix, and what it has meant to residents, Encarnacion said. He praised the way HOVENSA chose to celebrate — by throwing a party for residents.
What HOVENSA is doing right now is bringing all members of the community together so they can celebrate as a family," Encarnacion said, "and I applaud them for all the improvements they have contributed to the community, and for the families who got opportunities to be employed in the oil industry.
HOVENSA's precursors created the worlds eighth oil refinery on St. Croix, which has gone through two name changes since founder Amerada Hess began construction in the 1960s. Originally Hess Oil Virgin Islands, the company came to be known simply as HOVIC. HOVIC later became HOVENSA, named for its partnership with Hess Oil and the Venezuelan Oil Company.
In addition to a training school on its grounds to help residents better prepare for refinery jobs, Encarnacion said, HOVENSA has also funded construction of the St. Croix Educational Complex and the Juan F. Luis Hospital.
All of us in the community salute HOVENSA, he said, adding that he, too, would like to see the rebirth of Harbor Night, or something like it.
I used to play in a Latin band, Mo Tempo," Encarnacion said. "During those times, I got to see how much people enjoyed being out with the stores open late. It was fantastic, and hopefully this will once again be reorganized so citizens of the community can enjoy the night life in Frederiksted.
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