Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico celebrate friendship during Hispanic Heritage Month activities
Published: September 14, 2013
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ST. CROIX - Hispanic Heritage Month is starting off today with a Virgin Islands-Puerto Rico Friendship activity and following the theme Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico - Celebration of Our Culture, Our History and Our Friendship through October.
Dormitila Vargas, a committee member for the Hispanic Heritage month activities, said the events have evolved from the friendship activities to include a greater dynamic of Hispanic people in the community. She said the territory has been celebrating for decades as they fuse their common bonds and relationship that have grown into a new culture.
The celebration event will take place at 6 to 8 tonight at Sunny Isle Pavilion and will feature songs, and words of inspiration and blessings for both English and Spanish speakers.
"This is a celebration for Virgin Islanders and everyone who lives here, as we recognize and celebrate all Hispanics and the influence they have had on our culture," she said.
National Hispanic Heritage Month takes place from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, when people recognize the contributions of Hispanic and Latin Americans to the United States and celebrate the group's heritage and culture.
President Ronald Reagan expanded the week-long celebration in 1988 to cover a 30-day period. The dates were chosen because eight Latin American countries celebrate the anniversary of their independence between Sept. 15 and 21.
While National Hispanic Heritage Month will be at its midway point as October begins, the Virgin Islands-Puerto Rico Friendship celebrations will be launching then with ceremonies, art shows, cultural festivals and church services.
The Virgin Islands celebrates V.I.-P.R. Friendship Day on Columbus Day. The holiday was created in the 1960s to recognize the unique relationship between Virgin Islanders and Puerto Ricans, who were at the time the largest group of migrants to the territory, particularly on St. Croix.
Vargas said many people of Hispanic descent migrated here from Puerto Rico and Vieques and other Hispanic areas for different reasons, and from the time they came to the island, they felt at home because of the closeness in the community and the similarities in the culture.
Other activities throughout the month of events will include a sunset jazz concert, a family fun day, school presentations, dance and craft workshops, art exhibits, cock-fighting demonstrations, a paso fino horse presentation and a cultural exchange.
Gov. John deJongh Jr. will host an invitation-only reception later in the celebration to honor four outstanding members of the Hispanic and Virgin Islands communities for their contributions to strengthening the ties that bind the two groups of people together.
"The people we selected this year are very deserving, they have worked hard to preserve our cultures, and we have to show appreciation for their work," Vargas said.
This year's honorees are Valrica Bryson and Kendell Henry who are educators and cultural bearers; sports mentor Roberto Camacho; and Carmen Pimentel, a long-time educator at Lew Muckle School.
Vargas said the family fun day activities, cultural exchange and other activities will have dynamic entertainment that everyone will enjoy.
This year, the V.I. Lottery office has agreed for the first time to feature Hispanic images on its October drawing lottery tickets, she said.
"When they agreed to do that, I was very excited, it is just another way of how the entire community is getting involved and joining the celebration of the two fused cultures," Vargas said.
"We have activities for all walks of life, the religious, those into art, family events and the big party people, too."
- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email email@example.com.Today: Religious service at Sunny Isle Pavilion, 6 p.m.
Friday: Sunset Jazz with R&B Connection in Frederiksted, 6 p.m.
Oct. 6: Fiesta en el Batey (Family Fun Day) at WHIM Museum, noon to 5 p.m.
Oct. 10: 2nd Thursday with Rivert & Friends at the Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts in Frederiksted.
Oct. 11: Plena Libre presentations at Pearl B. Larsen and Charles Emmanuel schools.
Oct. 11: Diego Conde "Santa Cruz" exhibit at the Caribbean Museum and Center for the Arts in Frederiksted.
Oct. 12: Governor's reception, recognitions and awards, 6 p.m.
Oct. 13: Cultural Exchange at the Agriculture Fair Grounds, noon to midnight.
Oct. 18: Sunset Jazz with Siete Son and Trío Camaleón in Frederiksted, 6 p.m.