Pockets of activity were going on in all corners of Charlotte Amalie Friday night, sweeping from Emancipation Garden and the Governor’s Annual Children’s Holiday Party, through Post Office Square, where the Rising Stars Youth Steel Orchestra performed, and all the way down to the head of Main Street, where a group of young moko jumbies entertained residents before the traditional Lighted Boat Parade got underway.
It was this year’s Miracle on Main Street, hosted by the St. Thomas-St. John Chamber of Commerce to bring the community together for the holiday season. And while this year’s crowd was a little lighter than usual, there was still excitement in the air, entertainment on every corner, vendors out with food and handmade crafts and friends reconnecting as they passed one another on the street.
In Emancipation Garden, the evening kicked off early as Santa arrived by firetruck, greeting the crowds of children that rushed toward him before getting in line for presents, which were handed out under the bandstand. At the eastern entrance, a large Christmas tree was lit, flanked by master moko jumbie Yisrael Petersen and his team, who also posed for photos with youngsters eager to dance with him, or get lifted into the air.
“As we try to spread the spirit of the season, with peace and goodwill, we encourage you to look out for one another,” Lt. Gov. Tregenza Roach said as the evening kicked off. “Remember that this time of year is a happy one for many people, but for others, it’s a time a deep reflection. It’s important that we continue to take care of the people around us.”
The Christmas party was designed this year by Gov. Albert Bryan Jr.’s daughter Sumayah, who was also on hand to greet students and hand out presents. The party, she said, was the result of hard work put in by groups of volunteers, donors, and decorators such as local historian Felipe Ayala, who she said transformed the garden for the evening.
As student groups like the Ulla F. Muller Elementary School steel orchestra, performed, event goers flowed in between booths set up to sell everything from costume jewelry to soaps and body lotions. A bounce house set up on the sidewalk behind was filled with children, while adults gathered around, chatted, or browsed. Vendors closer to Fort Christian sold local food, drinks, and even bottles of guavaberry, which is in high demand every holiday season.
Traveling up to Post Office Square, the Rising Stars Youth Steel Orchestra was decked out in yellow, and entertained residents taking photos and videos with a range of holiday tunes and local favorites. Stores were open for the night, offering deals as residents continued to move through, but most of the buzz was outside, as residents soaked up the atmosphere. Bands were set up on every block, adding a sound track to the evening, while booths dotting the road offered up toys, home décor and treats.
Drawing a crowd at the head of Main Street were the Essentric moko jumbies, a group of young performers who danced along to the lively saxophone music provided by Clinton Stapleton.
“It was pure joy interacting with so many brave, talented and hardworking children,” Stapleton said. “Dancing on stilts is not as easy as it looks, and I think we should all be proud of the parents and teachers who offer their time and support so that we can all enjoy these moments.”
From there, residents flocked to the Waterfront apron for a front row seat to the annual Lighted Boat Parade, which included 21 boats this year. Decked out in everything from blow-up Santa’s to colored lights strung down the masts, many entries were also interactive, with passengers throwing candy and small toys out for the people watching to collect.
“I didn’t know the boats came up so close,” one surprised parade watcher said, as she reached out for a treat.
Winners of the parade this year were:
– 10th place: Firefly, with Captain Colleen Korona
– 9th place: St. Thomas Cycle Boat
– 8th place: Showtime, with Captain Tim Hall
– 7th place: Pirates Penny, with Christy Weiss
– 6th place: Calasho, with Captain Rachael Ackely
– 5th place: V.I. Flyer, with Captain Michael Keller
– 4th place: Sea Level, with Captain Tyler Sanders
– 3rd place: (sponsored by Sue Boland) Heidi’s Honeymoon Grill, with Captain CoKorey Roberts
– 2nd place: (sponsored by Off Shore Marine) Sabrage, with Captain Steve Wentworth
– 1st place (and winner of the Friendship Trophy, sponsored by Frenchman’s Reef Resort and Spa) Days Like This, with Captain Jay Pennington
Parade sponsors were: Crown Bay Marina, Tickles Dockside Pub, St. Thomas St. John Chamber of Commerce, Heidi’s Honeymon Grill, Off Shore Marine, Frenchman’s Reef Resort and Spa and Shoreline Business Group.