Courtesy of: The Morning News
An entire island was thrilled to welcome back Red Sox Rookie player and native son Xander Bogaerts last week, on the heels of the Boston team’s World Series victory. Prime Minister Mike Eman called him “a hero, and exemplary role model for island youth.”
Paseo Herencia Shopping Center recognized Xander as an athletic star two years ago, installing him and teammate Sean Zarraga on their “Wall of Fame” after their historic win of the Baseball World Cup while playing for The Netherlands. At that time, Aruba’s Governor Fredis Refunjol was also proud to perform the ceremony when both Xander and Sean were knighted by the crown.
On Friday evening, November 8, the Paseo Herencia mall was again pleased to unveil their newest way to honor exceptional achievement by islanders in the international arena, by placing stars in sculpture relief on their Irausquin Boulevard entrance, now renamed “Walk of Fame.”
“No one is more fitting to inaugurate our Walk of Fame than Xander Bogaerts,” commented Paseo Marketing Manager Candy Rasmijn. “We are all so proud of him and thrilled to do this.”
Paseo Herencia management has always been a staunch supporter of youthful endeavor and accomplishment, particularly in baseball, as their General Manager Valerie Pietersz-Camacho has two young sons who are enthusiastic Little Leaguers.
It was not only Valerie’s two young baseball fanatics who had the thrill of meeting and getting an autograph from their famous hero. Xander graciously consented to spend a session with Aruba’s entire Little League prior to the unveiling of his star. He spent over 90 minutes signing balls, hats, gloves, batter helmets, Red Sox tee shirts and whatever other baseball paraphernalia his devoted fans could muster, and always had a smile for the many photographs they requested to take with him.
A long-time Aruba visitor, George Grande, who works with the Cincinnati Reds, was vacationing on Aruba for the occasion. He stopped by to deliver greetings from the MLB and to tell all those filling the amphitheater of the Plaza Padu that “what really set Xander apart from the beginning was his great heart. Baseball writers and aficionados noticed him almost immediately…he had something special about him. From by experience vacationing here for so many years, and the islanders I have come to know, I have to believe it is a reflection of growing up on Aruba.”
Xander unveiled the inaugural star on the Walk of Fame accompanied by Minister of Health and Sports, Dr. Alex Schwengle, and his mother, Sandra Brown. “It has been a whirlwind four months,” she admitted.
Among those lined up getting autographs prior to the official ceremony, was Paseo Herencia Co-owner Alex Lovera, just as excited as any of the hundreds of youngsters present. “We are happy to provide this opportunity for our children to meet Xander,” he confided. “It is all about inspiring our youth. If a country ignores their children, they are, in my opinion, lost.”
When addressing the crowd, Xander thanked all those present for their support and attention. “A lot of great things have happened to me over the past year. I want you kids to take away from this that the most important thing is not the baseball, but the determination to do well, to always do your best. If you have that determination, you will go far.”