June 14, 2003 – Frenchtown has always had a bit of magic about it, but now it's official. Joseph Aubain Ballpark was transformed into "Magicsville" Friday night, honoring Teddy "Magic" Danet, possibly the best-known ambassador of the French village.
Danet, named Father of the Year for this weekend's Father's Day celebration, shared the spotlight with Miss Carenage of 2003, Jennifer Louise Greaux, whose family has a history of Frenchtown pageantry — her mother, Donna Turbe-Greaux, was Miss Frenchtown in 1972, and her sister Jacinthia won the title in 1994.
Jennifer was resplendent Friday night in her tiara and her gown backed by a long, shimmering red velvet cape as she greeted friends and admirers, stepping delicately over the grass field in her finery. The Charlotte Amalie High School graduate and early admissions student at the University of the Virgin Islands plans to major in chemistry with an eye toward a career in forensic science.
The stage was filled with island notables, as Irvin "Brownie" Brown, a notable himself in 2000, when the village was called "Brownieville," kept things moving. Senate President David Jones, Housing Parks and Recreation Commissioner Ira Hobson, St. Thomas-Water Island administrator James O'Bryan Jr. and Jean P. Greaux Jr., president of the Committee for the Betterment of Carenage, which sponsors the event, all had words for Danet, most of them in a humorous vein.
Danet was one of the founders of the annual Frenchtown celebration. "It's really different now," he said, recalling the time 40, maybe 50 — anyhow, a lot of — years ago, when he got together with Louis Greaux, Pete Ledee, Alan Richardson, the late Gus Aubain and a few others and decided to make something of Father's Day. They came up with a little fishing, a little food, a little drink and sometimes a ragtag parade past the late Bar Normandie.
There's no parade this year, but there is some trucking around in a more athletic form — a two-mile run scheduled for 7:30 a.m. Sunday. (See "Annual STAR fun run is Father's Day".) There's a modern-day plastic bubble booth that lets kids bounce around, and the music is more sophisticated with amplification. But the consumables and the company are pretty much like in the old days — chicken legs, patés, fry fish, roti, ice cream and crowds of folks greeting old friends and perhaps reminiscing over a cup of rum or so.
Danet was modest as he accepted his award with few words and a big smile Friday night, standing a hundred feet or so from where he was born almost 73 years ago. It's been an interesting journey.
An avid sportsman and baseball player, he told the audience an abbreviated tale of his connection to Baseball Hall of Fame in Coopers town, New York, where he is in the record book. In 1989, Danet's St. Thomas "50-and-older" baseball team won the championship in Melder, Louisiana. Lots of retired major league players were there, Danet said, and they asked two players from his team and a St. Croix team to join them in a game, the first ever for 50-and-over ex-major leaguers. Danet pinch hit in the game and got his name in the official record.
But sports has hardly been all for Danet. He is a father of three children, a privilege and a responsibility he takes seriously. He lamented the lack of fathering he sees now. On the stage he implored fathers to "know what your children are doing." He said St. Anne's Catholic Chapel on a hillside overlooking the ballpark "is almost bare" on Sundays. "I beg you as fathers to come to church, to bring your children," he said. "Get them on the right path."
Honors aren't new to the venerable Danet, who has been involved in more community activities than you can shake a Tricolor at. He has been honored by the Legislature and inducted into the V.I. Sports Hall of Fame. He's been an active member of Rotary, the American Red Cross, USO Council, V.I. Parole Board, Knights of Columbus and the V.I. Gamefishing Club. And he's one of the few extant members of the late, alas, Royal Frenchtown Yacht Club.
Outside of Frenchtown, professionally Danet is best known for the many years he spent as manager of Kresto-Denia Co., the distributor of Old Milwaukee beer.
On June 21, Danet will celebrate both his 73rd birthday and the 43rd anniversary of his marriage to Lillian Ann Greaux. They have one son, Theodore Danet III, 27, who goes by "Tippy" and is married and lives in Milwaukee where he a Walgreen's manager. You seldom see Teddy without Lillian strolling around Frenchtown, something they did for many years with "Tippy," too. Danet has two daughters by a former marriage.
Danet, who has helped stage the Father's Day festivities over the many years, said being named Father of the Year was a "big surprise" — although he uncovered a clue a little early. "I really didn't know anything about it," he said. "Then, about a week ago, I saw them unrolling a banner. I thought it was the fishing tournament banner, but when I began to see M-A-G, I knew something was up."
The celebration continues through Sunday night. On Saturday, there'll be music for dancing by Milo's Kings from 6 to 10 p.m. and the New Imagination Brass from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. On Sunday, Just So will play from 5 to 9 p.m. and Seabreeze will take over from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. On Sunday night, the winners of last weekend's traditional Father's Day fishing tournament will be announced.
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