Steve Simonsen is in the final stage of producing a DVD about the history of the Virgin Islands National Park. It will have its first showing at events celebrating the Park’s 50th anniversary, Dec. 1st. Bill Stelzer is editing the video.
"Over the summer and fall, we have been shooting interviews with long-time residents of the island, including Guy Benjamin, David Knight, and Elroy Sprauve," Simonsen explained in an interview. "They were pleased because, they’d say, ‘It’s good somebody is doing this because so many of the people involved at the start won’t be around forever. It’s good to get the story down, and from the people who were there.’"
This week’s News of St. John podcast features an interview with Simonsen talking about the Park DVD. Listen to it by clicking the > button on the player below.
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Simonsen added, "The most remarkable thing is the cooperation we’ve had from the (Laurance) Rockefeller archives." When searching for photos or documents about Rockefeller’s purchase of what became Park land, Simonsen said, "It’s amazing how they have been able to share this and that they had the foresight and wherewithal to archive and maintain it."
Bruce Schoonover asked Simonsen to undertake the project, on behalf of the Friends of the VI Park. The Friends plan to distribute 350 copies of the documentary, presumably to members and supporters. It is also possible the video may be available for purchase, and broadcast on a cable channel like Discovery or Travel.