St. John youth danced and skipped to calypso Christmas music at the Governor’s Children’s Christmas Party at the Frank Powell Park on Wednesday morning, December 12, waiting in anticipation for Santa Claus to arrive.
Governor John deJongh and First Lady Cecile deJongh mingled with the children and teachers, marking the first time in several years the V.I.’s chief executive has attended the traditional Governor’s Children’s Christmas Party.
The man in red soon made his entrance via a fire truck with sirens blazing, sending the children into a frenzy. Santa Claus ascended the steps of the bandstand and made himself comfortable in a big, leather armchair, as the children lined up and waited their turn to visit with Santa and receive their gift.
There were some noticeable changes at this year’s Governor’s Children’s Christmas Party, including the limiting of those who received gifts to children from age 3 to grade 2. The event was organized through territory schools this year in an effort to ensure each child received a present, explained Cecile deJongh.
“In the past, the parties were in the evening, but being the organized mom that I am, I wanted to make sure every kid gets a gift,” said the first lady. “So, we got an accurate head count from each of the schools. It’s a nice field trip for the kids.”
Nearly 200 Gifts Given
The deJonghs were prepared to give gifts to nearly 200 children on St. John from the St. John Christian Academy, Gifft Hill School, Guy Benjamin School and Julius E. Sprauve School.
The gifts and snacks were all purchased with donations from territory businesses.
It was important for the governor to attend his Children’s Christmas Party, Gov. deJongh explained.
“To the kids, this is a time of tradition and family, and it’s important that Cecile and I show the folks in the community that we care,” said the governor.
The party’s new format ensured that everyone who attended received a gift — even those children who may not get presents at home, Gov.l deJongh explained.
“For many of our children, they may not have the opportunity for presents,” he said. “Today’s program is structured so the kids know we really care about them.”
Older children were not entirely left out this year. The St. John Festival and Cultural Organization hosted a party Wednesday afternoon for children in grades 3 through 6.
Festival Organization Helps Santa Claus— and Governor — with Children’s Gifts
By Jaime Elliott
Since changes in the annual governor’s Christmas party this year provided gifts to fewer of the island’s children than normal, the St. John Festival and Cultural Organization stepped in to fill the gap.
Children in grades 3 through 6 filled the Frank Powell Park in Cruz Bay late Wednesday afternoon waiting for members of the organization — who wore Santa’s Elves t-shirts — to distribute gifts and tell Santa what they wanted for the holiday.
Earlier in the day Governor John deJongh and First Lady Cecile deJongh helped Santa hand out gifts to children in pre-school to second grade.
The idea to distribute additional gifts was St. John Festival and Cultural Organization president Leona Smith’s and the rest of the members signed up immediately, explained organization member Enid Doway.
“The idea for this party came up because we are the Festival Organization and this year the governor’s staff decided to do the party a little differently by giving gifts to the very young kids only,” said Doway. “We at the Festival and Cultural Organization usually work in conjunction with the governor’s office every year and do the party. So this year we decided to do our part anyway.”
Festival Organization members contacted each of the island’s schools and were happy with the chance to return a little favor to the community, Doway explained.
“We just wanted to give something back to the community which always gives us so much support,” she said.
The island’s children were delighted with the gifts which included basketballs, finger paints and dolls. After receiving their gift and giving Santa a hug, the children enjoyed a complimentary snack from McDonald’s as well as Christmas cookies, candy and nuts.