Puerto Ricans have been part of this community from the beginning of the last century and have become a strong, powerful group of people working hard to improve themselves, their families, and what became their new home --- St. Croix.
Their influence was recognized in 1964 by the local Legislature, under Governor Ralph E. Paiewonsky approving a historical change bill. Columbus Day, observed in all the Americas as the Discover Day, was now to be Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico Friendship Day. This bill called upon the citizens of the Virgin Islands to "observe the occasion with fitting ceremonies honoring Puerto Ricans residing in our midst and who have made substantial contributions to the advancement and progress of the Virgin Islands."
Over the years, the celebration has gone from honoring just individuals to honoring outstanding students, service organizations, people with disabilities, those supporting youth and sports, and small business owners who help the community. Becoming more inclusive, native Crucians are also recognized for their contributions.
This year, 2016, the Virgin Islands/Puerto Rico Friendship Committee is making 52 years of celebrating with pride and enthusiasm the long-lasting ties that have bonded our two families since the beginning of the 20th century.
It's been a long path of big sacrifices and great achievements that gave birth to the 1964 Law, to recognize the importance of the alliance of two cultures, two languages which became so entwined, that made of us, "all a we one family."
And in tune with this year's theme, A New Generation Continuing the Tradition, the energetic and innovative team, under Mr. Emerito Torres' leadership, is rescuing the tradition while giving it a wonderful new flavor.
The host of events planned for the entire community will provide an opportunity for everyone to come out and enjoy the celebrations. In addition to the traditional Sacred Service, Queen Show, Family Fun Day, the Governor's Awards Reception, the Parade and the Village, the committee is working on a series of innovations sure to please every taste.
The softball games are back with three days of intense sports for the family, with local and Puerto Rico teams. School children will have educational field trips to learn more about the public library services, especially the Hispanic Collection, one of the committee's most beloved projects. Groups from Puerto Rico will visit schools to bring workshops, music and dance to our students. Volunteer educators will delight the little ones by having bilingual story telling at the island's head start centers.
"Vejigantes" and "Zanqueros" will be part of the parade, where they will join our local Mocko Jumbies. A marathon will run from K-Mart West to Budhoe Park. A number of government dignitaries and cultural groups from Puerto Rico will visit the island to be part of the fiesta and music bands will delight all at the different events. As a grand finale, the Christiansted boardwalk will be turned into a Puerto Rican Big Bash with music, food, arts and much more. It will be a blast and a great closing for the celebrations.
For more information:
VI-PR Friendship Committee
St. Croix This Week | St. Thomas + St. John This Week
Location: # 1 Havensight Way, St. Thomas, VI 00802
Mailing Address: PO Box 11199 St. Thomas, VI 00801-4199
Telephone: (340) 774-2500
Fax: (340) 776-1466