Love City’s cultural and musical trends were proudly on display Wednesday night, June 30, for locals, visitors and dignitaries including Governor John deJongh, during the official opening of “Powellville,” St. John Festival Village named in honor this year of Selwyn Powell.
With rain delays pushing back the St. John Princess Selection Show last week, Festival Committee members opted to coronate this year’s Festival Queen and Princess during the Village Opening as well.
The Love City Pan Dragons got the festivities off to a rousing start with a few musical selections that had the crowd ready for fun. Following an invocation offered by Pastor Carlyle Sampson, Berklee College of Music student Evanna
Chinnery sang goose-bump inducing renditions of the National Anthem and Virgin Islands March.
Powell has been integral to the success of the island’s Festival celebration for years, explained St. John Festival Committee Village chairperson Jane Johannes.
“Tonight’s honoree is one of the most important people on St. John when it comes to Festival,” said Johannes. “He has kept St. John up for many, many years. Selwyn should be honored and honored.”
A self-described man of few words, Powell didn’t waste anyone’s time on the microphone.
“I’m here to thank the committee for giving me this honor tonight,” said Powell. “I’m no man to talk, so I’m done.”
Instead of coronating the queen-select and princess-select in the often sweltering temperatures during Food Fair as usual, bestowing the honors during Village Opening might be a new tradition, explained mistress of ceremonies Alecia Wells.
“This might be setting a precedent with the coronation,” said Wells. “It’s nice doing this in the cool of the evening.”
After accepting her crown from First Lady Cecile deJongh, Shanté Monsanto-Weeks explained the ardorous task of becoming Festival royalty.
“The path to becoming royalty is not an easy one,” said Monsanto-Weeks. “We can all attest to the hours of work that goes into running for queen. It takes desire, determination, discipline and self-confidence.”
After thanking her mother, coach, grandmother, siblings and other family members, Monsanto-Weeks wished the crowd a happy Festival season.
“I remind my fellow Virgin Islanders to remain safe during Festival,” said Queen Monsanto-Weeks.
Princess Destini Garcia offered a simple message to the crowd.
“Stop the violence,” said the Julius E. Sprauve School fourth grader.
Dusted off from recent rains, St. John is offering its best side for visitors and residents to enjoy during Festival, explained Senator at Large Craig Barshinger.
“St. John is looking green and beautiful and clean,” said Barshinger. “We welcome you one and all. Give yourselves a hand because Festival doesn’t happen without all of you being here to enjoy it.”
Keeping Festival safe is the most important thing this year, explained Lt. Governor Greg Francis.
“Let’s honor Princess Garcia’s words and stop the violence,” said Francis. “It’s up to us to showcase our culture. Let’s keep it safe and spend some money.”
While Powell didn’t have much to say to the crowd, his importance should not be measured by his words, explained Governor deJongh.
“Through his years at WAPA, his years at Village, his six children and his seven grandchildren, Selwyn Powell has been truly a man of the community,” said deJongh. “It’s my pleasure to be involved in this festival to honor Selwyn Powell. In a place that is so special, this community is extra nice.”
With the last speech from the dignitaries on the platform, it was time to gather at the entrance to the Cruz Bay custom’s parking lot.
St. John Festival Committee chairperson Leona Smith and other committee members stapled madras bunting across the entrance and Village honoree Powell, Princess Garcia, Queen Monsanto-Weeks, Governor deJongh, Lt. Gov. Francis and Senator Barshinger gathered on one side of the fabric.
With sisscors in hand, Governor deJongh and Princess Garcia cut the ribbon and officially opened “Powellville” for St. John Festival 2010.