Organizers of this year’s Miracle on Main Street wanted to put together an event to rival last years, post-hurricane version, which drew about10,000 people. They took over the entire downtown area, bringing in more bands, activities, entertainment and – with the downtown stores open again – more shopping deals than ever before.
Official numbers weren’t available for Friday’s Miracle, but walking down Main Street sure made it seem like they succeeded. It was impossible not to get lost in the crowds that gathered in front of stores, live music stations or food vendors. Familiar faces were everywhere, and while the lines in some places were long, the wait was made easier by the conversations that went back and forth between friends, family and neighbors who had come out for a night on the town.
“I really think everyone is just ready to come out and have fun, and we’re providing a spot where you can do just that,” organizer Leslie Fisher said. “We wanted to create an event this year that allowed everyone to come out and just forget all that’s happened, get reconnected and see all that we still have to offer, from local artisans, music and just the beauty of the downtown area. It’s all right here.”
In order to deliver the experience, Fisher said the event team worked for months with the public agencies, such as Waste Management, the Governor’s Office and Public Works, to “fill in gaps” that might not have existed before 2017’s storms. Lighting, trash cans and other details were worked out for months and, in between, the team had to line up sponsors for the entertainment, gather boats for the traditional lighted boat parade and more.
What’s more, the event – sponsored by the St. Thomas-St. John Chamber of Commerce and V.I. Tourism Department – made all-day use of Emancipation Garden, which went from a hub of local artists and vendors in the morning, to the site for the Governor’s Children’s Christmas Party in the afternoon, to a bandstand in the evening.
“The business owners are encouraged that we’re starting to get more cruise ships, and things look like they’re picking up,” Fisher said. “With many of the hotels still offline, things aren’t completely back to where they used to be, but you can still feel the difference from last year and we wanted to do as much as possible to liven up the entire downtown this year.”
The flow of the day also worked well. Activity stations in the Garden were open for families, who could spend an hour working on a project at the Home Depot booth before grabbing a bite to eat, listening to a band and then heading down for the boat parade, which started at 7 p.m. Fisher said 22 boats entered this year, and the waterfront apron started filling up about a half hour before the kickoff. The boats did five or so loops before calling it a night and in between, bands were still playing from Palm Passage on up.
Restaurants such as Green House and Cafe Amalia were buzzing with activity as residents sat down for a late dinner before heading down the alleyways to browse the deals.
“Miracle is always a special occasion for us,” Cafe Amalia owner Randolph Maynard said. For the evening, the restaurant’s menu included all the typical homemade specials, including lobster, lamb chops and stuffed chicken breast among other things.
“I always look forward to be a part of this. It’s kind of like a gathering of the community, where people really come out and use the town,” he said. “Events like this allow us to really appreciate the architecture and the charm that is Charlotte Amalie.”
Part of the charm for Miracle-goers Friday evening was the large shopping deals, which business owners started advertising as soon as they opened in the morning. Main Street was closed to traffic as early as 3 p.m., which gave shoppers the chance to come out early and browse, while a halt on the construction running from Market Square down ensured every store was open and ready for buyers.
“It’s a big year for us at Royal Caribbean,” Shailesh Buxani said. “We’re celebrating 50 years in the community and we really wanted to do a lot of special things for our family, for everyone who has continued to support us.”
While Buxani spoke about 20 percent off deals on everything from jewelry to electronics, the team at Cardow Jewelers also said they were looking at creating “a little something special” for the community this year.
“We had a lot of success with our watch line, which showcased the Virgin Islands,” Shakiefa Chinnery said Friday. “That was so popular, and after a few years people started to ask for something they could put in their homes, so this year, we designed a clock you can just hang on your wall. It’s beautiful, it’s practical and it’s something everyone’s been asking for. It’s great when you can deliver something local, something that people actually want and is meaningful. That’s one of the best parts of the job.”