Kids enjoy the dart station in Children’s Village, which is an alcohol- and drug-free zone, sponsored by the Rotary Club of St. John.
The race track is an annul favorite for island youth, especially for Brian Ben Avi, above, as he picks out a car to race down the festival track.
CRUZ BAY — Just as Love City adults anxiously await the music and entertainment at St. John Festival Village each July, the island’s younger residents count down the days to the annual Children’s Village.
Last week, those kids enjoyed games, prizes, face-painting and a bouncy house near the V.I. National Park ball field in Cruz Bay for six nights, Saturday, June 28, through Thursday, July 3, from 6 to 9 p.m.
“We are usually here for five nights but this year we opened on Saturday and ran for six full nights,” said Rotary Club of St. John past president Joan Bermingham.
Rotary Club of St. John took the project over from St. John Community Foundation several years ago and now hosts and organizes the village with strong help from St. John Accommodation Council.
The drug- and alcohol-free area is a safe and fun zone for the island’s youth while the annual St. John Festival and Festival Village is running at the U.S. Customs parking lot.
Games at the children’s village this year ranged from the ever-popular bouncy house to matchbox racing cars, a basketball toss and balloon-popping darts.
For only 50-cents a ticket, kids of all ages tried their hands at the games in hopes of earning enough tokens to take home a coveted prize from the trailer.
“We had so much fun buying all the prizes,” said Bermingham, who stocked up on basketballs, soccer balls and much sought-after skateboards. “We’re giving one skateboard away each night and they seem to be the most popular items we have. They’re gone just when we open.”
In addition to the sports balls and light up toys, Bermingham and fellow Rotary Club past president B.J. Harris also made sure there were some educational prizes available for children to buy with their winning tokens.
“There were some great toys this year including some educational items like alternative energy and archaeology projects,” said Harris.
Rotary Club members do not host the village alone. The group is helped each night by volunteers who this year included Rotary members, St. John residents and Freshwater Church members and a visiting mission team.
“We greatly appreciate everyone’s help especially Freshwater Church and their mission team who have come out every single night to help,” said Bermingham.
In addition to playing games and taking home prizes, children’s village-goers also had the chance to register for free summer eco-camps at the V.I. Environmental Resource Station at Lameshur Bay this July.
“We still have spaces left and the camps are free to St. John students,” said VIERS Administrator Randy Brown, who set up a table at the Children’s Village entrance last week.
Each year, the success of St. John Children’s Village is due to a lot of work from a lot of people, Bermingham added.
“We are really happy for all the help that we get so that we can keep this going,” Bermingham said.