'Twas the 11th day before Christmas and what should appear
But the FTCO in its 44th year
With singing and dancing they welcomed with cheer
The tree-lighting ceremony for Frenchtown this year
Tiny "Lalal" Aubain stepped up to the tree
Which looked about 30-feet taller than she
And light it she did but that was just the beginning
She did a little dance that set her heels spinning
The choirs sang out with music so sweet
That all who were there were tapping their feet
When suddenly the air was filling with cheer
For everyone knew who soon would be here
With sirens and horns and a lot of commotion
A big, red fire truck created so much emotion
The children lined up, their eyes open so wide
Unable to wait to see who was inside
And there was old Santa, long beard and red hat
With something for all, 'cause you know he's like that
With sweetbread and ham and even guava berry
Making everyone there inordinately merry
And that is a more or less accurate description of the tree-lighting ceremony in Frenchtown Sunday evening, an event so inspiring that it could only be related in verse!
Produced by the Frenchtown Civic Organization as it is each year, the ceremony was staged in the parking lot adjacent to the Joseph Aubain Ballpark.
Allan Richardson, chairman of the event, thinks this must be about the 44th year for the traditional ceremony. "If not, that's close," he laughs. Richardson has attended almost all the ceremonies since that time.
This year his daughter, Giselle Richardson (with poise no doubt gathered from her father) did the honors, introducing the honorees, with comments and smiles.
Elizabeth "Lalal" Aubain, 74, performed the tree-lighting honors this year, after which she performed a skit which earlier this year had won her honors in the Mrs. Senior V.I. contest. After that, she couldn't resist dancing a little jig.
The Voices of Love and the St. Anne's Choir sang carols, which wafted over the warm evening, transforming the parking lot into a makeshift cathedral.
According to Richardson, the parking lot will go through another transformation for New Years. Richardson was imploring everyone to attend this year's celebration where, "we will turn the village into a ballroom." Well-known for his decorating skills from decades of Moby Dick floats in Carnival Parades (and most any other island occasion) Richardson said, "We will have strings of lights, 4,000 lights for Old Year's Night."
On behalf of Gov. Charles W. Turnbull, who was unable to attend Sunday evening's event, James O'Bryan extended warm season's wishes. Sen. Lorraine Berry, who traditionally speaks at the ceremony, was ill, said Richardson, and also missed the event.
The kids didn't seem to notice who was there, as long as Santa appeared. About 75 children were lined up, anxiously awaiting his arrival, barely held in check by hovering parents. The brilliant 28-foot tree, a Norfolk pine, came from Frenchtown, too, Richardson said, and had been donated by a neighbor.
Two of Frenchtown's matriarchs were also in attendance and were paid due homage. Josephine "Fifine" Richardson and Julienne Greaux enjoyed the ceremony, surrounded by many friends and relatives.
After all the festivities were complete and the children had seen Ole' Saint Nick, the evening concluded with ham and sweetbread for all.
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