To the Source:
Thanks for the article on Bacchanal 2001. While the article itself was interesting and generally upbeat, I don't understand what the benefit is to the Bacchanal, the Source or its readers to read about the need for better accounting, better pricing and not enough beer at the bar. Hey, we're just friends fete-ing friends.
The St. Thomas Bacchanal is a reunion of people (All O' We) who have lived on St. Thomas and shared their lives with others. It's about the unbelievable relationships that began on St. Thomas and have strengthened over many years, many miles and many events. And yet, when we run into someone whom we haven't seen since we were teenagers, all of the feelings of closeness and friendship return as if the other person hadn't been seen in … a week, when in fact it may be 10-20-30 years.
The Bacchanal is also a wonderful time for "story straightening." You know we Thomians, we love to spin yarn. Among us are undoubtedly some of the best and biggest storytellers in the world. So, when a few people get together, and one begins a tall tale with "Do you remember …" you can be sure all ears will be listening intently — to capture each exaggeration, stretch or fib. And then the rebuttals and corrections fly! Everybody has a different memory. But the stories abound, and so do the sounds of laughter.
I can't tell you how many old friends, even first girlfriends, I've encountered at our Bacchanals. People that I thought were dead, or worse — sitting right in front of me, 25 years later. Amazing! How about if I tell you that my sixth grade teacher is still one of my favorite people? We all have stories like that. And that is what makes us such a unique case study. We can be separated by years and miles, but we remain closer than most people who remain where they are for all of their lives
The other reason we flock together once a year is that one common thread — our mutual love of St. Thomas. Every one of us relishes our memories of growing up on St. Thomas. All we really talk about is how cool it was, and how much fun we had. In a way, we are a living history of the last 50 years on St. Thomas.
That's why we have the Bacchanal every year: to celebrate friendships, memories and our mutual and collective love for St. Thomas, our Virgin Island.
But to address your mention of a more structured group, incorporating and all that: We are just a group of friends who gather annually. Each year another tiny group takes the reins of putting together a party for 400 ex-Thomians. If any money or goods are left over from the previous year, it is passed on to the next committee. On the other hand, if we don't take in enough money to cover costs, then we, the committee, have to eat it. Believe me, there is lots of personal sacrifice by each of us. I myself have spent hundreds of my own dollars on telephone and fax calls, trips to the hotel for meetings, compiling e-mail lists, etc. Each of us has a similar list of expenses year after year. But that's the way it is when you're just a bunch of friends.
My suggestion would be for anyone who was in anyway dissatisfied to please, please stand up and be recognized. All O' We need volunteers for next year. If you know how to make it better, lend a hand — please!
As for the "all I got for $50" crowd: Last year we had Mexican-style chicken for 400. This year we had Thomian-style roast pig for 400, and a fabulous home-made fish stew for 400. Basically, whatever it costs per person is what we collect. This year it was $50. Next year, it might be $35 or $50 again. It depends on lots of factors.
The bottom line is that I believe the article should have been written in only a positive light. This is not a business, scam, concert or political gathering that needs to be judged by its quality or quantity. It's just a gathering of friends. Take it or leave it.
What a great party! What wonderful friends I have! "All O' We Came Out to Play" this year for sure!
See you in JAX!
[Bacchanal 2001 committee member]
Editor's note: Source coverage of the event can be accessed at Bacchanal 2001. To respond to the writer's invitation to help plan Bacchanal 2002, e-mail the Source at firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll forward the messages.