Traffic restrictions St. Croix's Dominicano community to celebrate independence

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ST. CROIX - St. Croix will celebrate Dominican Republic Independence Day on Sunday with a parade, food and a full slate of entertainment.

"It's going to be a day full of fun and cultural events," said Edgar Bengoa, president of the Dominican Action Committee.

Actually, the festivities got under way on Friday night, when the Independence Day Cup baseball tournament started at D.C. Canegata Ballpark. The tournament continues today and Sunday at the park.

According to Bengoa, two teams from Puerto Rico, one from St. Thomas and three from St. Croix will be vying for the top spot in the tourney.

Independence Day in the Dominican Republic falls on Feb. 27, which is Thursday. It commemorates the date in 1844 when the Dominican Republic gained independence from Haiti.

Sunday's parade, which is the fifth Dominican Independence Parade on St. Croix, has grown in popularity over the years, as has the festival of music, entertainment and food at Canegata that follows.

"We have all kinds of traditional floats, local music, local bands, local DJs," Bengoa said. "Five of the major troupes from Festival will be participating with us."

As of Friday evening, 40 to 45 entries had signed up to be in the parade, which is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. Sunday, Bengoa said. It begins at Bassin Triangle and goes down King Street and then around to Canegata Ballpark.

Queen of the event, by a popular vote, will be Lluvia Arrendell, an 18-year-old senior at Educational Complex. Arrendell said her mother was born in the Dominican Republic, although Arrendell herself was born right here on St. Croix.

She said she embraces cultural diversity and wants to be more active in the community.

Former professional baseball player Rico Carty will be the grand marshal for the parade, Bengoa said.

Carty played in the Major Leagues from 1963 to 1979 and was on a number of teams, including the Milwaukee Braves; Atlanta Braves; Chicago Cubs; the Oakland A's; Cleveland Indians; Toronto Blue Jays; and Texas Rangers. He was in the first class of inductees for the Caribbean Baseball Hall of Fame, according to his biographical information.

The mini village that will be set up at Canegata will feature 27 vendors, according to Bengoa. They will be selling food and drink, including "all types of local food, Spanish food, down-island food," he said.

The village is scheduled to open about 11 a.m. on Sunday.

Entertainment at the festival is to include La Fuerza; Dynice; the Sonics from Puerto Rico; and DJ animators Papi Love Jr. and Martin B. Breton, according to Bengoa. The featured attraction is Wander Manuel from the Dominican Republic, he said.

"People have a great time," he said. "They dance. That's what Dominicans do, they love to dance."

Other entertainment on tap for Sunday includes the Dominican Folklore Ballet, and a cultural group from the University of the Virgin Islands that will put on a play, he said.

The Dominican Action Group plans to raffle off a 2013 Ford Focus, with tickets $25, as a fundraiser. Those buying a ticket also get a Dominican flag while supplies last, he said.

Entry to the event is free, although food and drink cost extra.

- Contact Joy Blackburn at 714-9145 or email V.I. Police Department has announced the following traffic and parking restrictions for the fifth annual Dominican Independence Parade on Sunday in Christiansted:

- From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, no street parking will be permitted from Bassin Triangle to the intersection of King and Hospital streets.

- Any vehicle parked in the restricted area will be ticketed or towed at the owner's expense.

- Owners or drivers finding their vehicles have been towed can contact the Ancilmo Marshall Command at 773-2530 for information.

- Vehicles traveling into Christiansted town will be restricted from entering the parade route and will be stopped or detoured.

- Streets will open once the parade passes.

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