11th Annual Reef Festival a success!

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 17, No. 17            April 26, 2007

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Reef Week 2007 culminated in grand style on Sunday, April 22nd at Mar de Tumbo with a huge beach party. All week, Hol Chan Marine Reserve had been hosting many activities for the community and especially the islands kids. In concurrence with Earth Day, Reef Week was held under the theme; “Not Loss or Destruction but Conversation and Protection” of our most fragile eco-systems.

    All week youths engaged in several activities including trivia competitions, movie nights based on coral reef films, and a clean up campaign for the teachers. On Friday, a skit competition was held at the Lion’s Den. Here, the students designed and performed a skit/presentation based on the conservation of our marine resources.

    The kids got more than they bargained for as they had a chance to touch some of these wonderful marine creatures that were readily available thru a “touch tank”. Kids and adults met and touched sea cucumbers, sea slugs, conch of all varieties, hermit crabs, star fish and prickly sea urchins. All the reef’s official protectors were present - Hol Chan Marine Reserve biologists and rangers and other reef lovers were actively participating in explaining some of the environmental displays.

    The week’s activities culminated at the 11th Annual Reef Festival which was held at the finish line for the Eco-Challenge Kayak Race. The event brought hundreds of people, locals and visitors alike to enjoy the festivities at Mar de Tumbo. It was a beautiful day on the beach, just enough breezes to rustle the coconut trees and create a great atmosphere for a beach party. The Reef Festival was educational but entertaining as well, organizers held a poster contest and sand castle competition for the school kids.

    The poster contest was simple; create a poster that best depicts this year’s theme and that is exactly what the kids did. At the end of the day, a number of posters were hanging from under the tents and were viewed by the public. Of course with every competition there has to be winners, which were: (3rd place) Nathalie Olivarez who received $50 cash. Second place Patricia Acosta of Isla Bonita Elementary who received $75 and first place went to the girls of Island Academy: Brianna, Elizabeth, Allison and Storm who received $100 cash.

    The Sand Castle competition was another huge hit among the gathered: school kids were broken up into groups and along with their teacher they had to make a sand model of a sea creature within the allotted time. The creativity, imagination and team work was brilliant: the kids came up with several ideas that blew the crowd away. After tough deliberations, the judges had the arduous task ahead of them to choose the contest winners. Third place went to Island Academy who won free passes to the Island Mini-golf now located at the San Pedro Fitness Club. Second place was won by the San Pedro Roman Catholic School who won a pizza party courtesy of Pirate’s Pizza…Rrr maties! And the contests’ first place winners were given to the New Horizon School who won a pool party at the San Pedro Fitness Club and $100 cash in snacks. The day’s festivities included an unforgettable bubbles corner. Many children raved about its brilliance; they never thought one can make bubbles out of “fly swatters” or kitchen utensils. Pretty fun huh kids?

    Overall the Reef festival and Reef Week 2007 was indeed enjoyed by all; it proved very engaging but enlightening to the fact that we all learn a thing or two of our most fragile eco-systems, either to conserve or protect. Kudos to all its sponsors and organizers, participants and the community making this years Reef Festival and Reef Week a tremendous hit!

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