St. John Tradewinds News

2018 St. John Festival Children’s Village Opens

From L to R: Current Rotary President Alecia M. Wells, Rotary Secretary Teri Mandemaker, and Past Rotary President BJ Harris

A crowd gathering at Children’s Village.

The 2018 St. John Festival Children’s Village opened with much praise on Friday. The event is hosted by the Rotary Club of St. John in the National Park and serves as a safe and drug-free venue for children and families to play carnival-style games and win prizes. From June 29 to July 3, participants have an opportunity to play in the onsite bounce house, get their face painted, and participate in the games available between 5:15 p.m. and 9:15 p.m.

Games include two strongman games (for younger and older children), darts, clown toss, miniature basketball, Hotwheel car races, and more. A plethora of stuffed animals, small toys, balls, and even skateboards are available for winners.

The Rotary Club of St. John has made considerable efforts to support the St. John community since the passing of the major hurricanes in September. They hosted a free Thanksgiving dinner that served over 700 people back in November. They hope to continue that spirit of giving and camaraderie as they manage the Children’s Village over the next four days.

Foundation Chairwoman and Past Rotary President BJ Harris expressed her thankfulness that the equipment for the event did not suffer much damage, “I’m very happy that the trailer we use for the prize counter was okay. Other than some frogs we found inside that we relocated safely, it made it through the storm just fine,” said Harris.

“A trailer holding our snow cone machine and popcorn machine got flipped over, but the equipment inside still functions,” Harris continued.

The Rotary Club does not act alone in hosting Children’s Village. The organization depends on volunteers from the local community, the local Freshwater Church congregation, and a group of religious volunteers that have traveled from Texas to assist the Rotary Club with Children’s Village for the past four years. Editor’s Note: This paragraph has been corrected to accurately state that Freshwater Church is a local St. John congregation, not a visiting group of religious volunteers. 

The group of religious volunteers from Graceview Baptist Church in Texas also returned to St. John to assist in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Pastor Landon Dees expressed hope that in assisting in Children’s Village, “The kids will come out and enjoy themselves, and a sense of normalcy will return to the island” said Dees.

“This is not a profit-making event, it is more of a breakeven event. I hope that the kids [who evacuated] are back, so this can be a normal event for them. I also hope that everyone who comes out leaves with a prize” said Harris.

Volunteers can sign up by contacting Teri Mandemaker on Facebook.

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