June 16, 2006 – On Father's Day in Frenchtown, traditionally, one father is singled out for the honor, but this year was different. The Moby Dick Committee – founder of the celebration – was the honoree, and family ruled the evening Friday.
Crowds gathered in the Joseph Aubain ballpark for the ceremony that sets off the weekend Father's Day celebration. But Friday was a night for the whole family as Amanda Suzanne Greaux was crowned Miss Carenage 2006. Greaux was also celebrating a milestone birthday; she turned 18 on Friday.
On the other end of the spectrum, Frenchtown stalwart Allan Richardson, the father of the Moby Dick Committee, among other things, was honored in the village where he grew up. Never at a loss for words, Richardson said, "I'm one of the children that the village raised, and you won't be getting rid of me any time soon."
Sitting on the stage beaming at the apple of their eye were Donna and Vincent Greaux, while younger brother Kevin and cousin Melissa Steffens cheered and jumped up in the crowd to get a better look at their star. "Wow," was all her brother could say, as he and Steffens ran to get the best spot for photos.
The older generation was heard from as well, when her grandparents, Florie and Harry Magras, took the stage. Florie Magras presented Greaux with an enormous bouquet of pink roses. "I know you will be flying away, you've got your wings," her grandmother said, "but we know you will always come home to us."
Greaux, who was recently named Ss. Peter and Paul School's prom queen, underscored that thought, saying, "I will remember this all my life because it is an honor from my own people. I am a part of my culture; I am French, a Virgin Islander, a West Indian and an American."
Though perfectly poised on the stage, Greaux admitted before the ceremony to "having butterflies – big ones." After the ceremony, her long brown hair pulled back beneath her sparkling tiara, she said with a smile, "No more butterflies."
In the fall Greaux will attend Camden College in New Jersey, where she plans to study dentistry.
Irvin "Brownie" Brown oversaw master of ceremonies duties with his usual relish, keeping things light as he introduced the evening's other guests, Senate President Lorraine Berry, Miss Carnival 2006 Mystic Burke, the Rev. George Franklin of Ss. Peter and Paul Parish, and James O 'Bryan, who was sitting in for Gov. Charles W. Turnbull.
The St. Anne Youth Choir was delightful as they sang the French national anthem, "La Marseillaise." The children, aged between 3 and about 8 years, sang with spirit, one of them sounding a verbal beat, beat, beat, while the others carried the tune.
Jean Greaux, president of the Committee for the Betterment of Carenage, opened the ceremonies and set the tone for the evening, saying, "Our roots are in this celebration." He said the evening boasted some milestones: "Twenty-five years ago, Gail Joseph, who has been the backbone of every celebration, was herself crowned Miss Frenchtown right here. And Corrine Smith Danet, our first Miss Frenchtown 36 years ago, is here tonight."
Greaux, as he had last year, made another plea for unity in the tiny village. He said he would like to see "beyond politics, beyond the backbiting, so we can work together, hand in hand." His reference was to two Frenchtown groups: the CBC and the older group, the Frenchtown Civic Organization.
He presented Richardson with a plaque honoring the Moby Dick Committee for whom the celebration is named this year.
Richardson, looking happy as only a Frenchman on his own turf can, talked about the creation of the Moby Dick Committee. "One time on Father's Day three of us were talking at the Normandie Bar – Tony Scabriel, (no longer with us) and Benny Gagliani and me. We decided we had to get something together. We didn't have anything, so I went to Government House. It was Governor Evans then. I told them we didn't need money; we needed things. They said 'go ahead.'"
The group would become a trendsetter in Carnival parades. It wasn't easy, but it was a lot of fun. Richardson recounted some of the floats the group has entered, starting in 1968 with McHale's Navy. The floats are legendary – The White House, the River Boat, the Old Lady and the Shoe, and, of course, Moby Dick.
Aside from the previously named three, the original members of the Moby Dicks included Leslie Richardson, Allan's brother, Leon and Rosemarie Danet, Paulie Greaux, and Jimmy Danet.
Berry praised Richardson saying, "He is known as the mayor of Frenchtown. His artistic work is so great, and you can always depend on him."
Berry also had some family words. "Our daughter, Roxanne, is having a baby soon. For the first time, I'll be a grandmother."
She later confirmed that, also for the first time, she may be lieutenant governor, but she declined to say who she will be running with.
It must be catching. Sen. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg, who announced his gubernatorial candidacy last week, was also enjoying the evening, but he declined to announce his running mate. "It will come soon, and it will be a surprise," he said.
People were greeting old friends and family, keeping the beat of Nuff Pressure band, and munching chicken legs and johnny cake, served up in massive amounts by the CBC ladies.
The event, staged by the CBC for the past 12 years, goes on through Sunday. On Saturday, Milo's Kings and Cool Session Brass will entertain.
On Sunday, the activities will begin with the All Stars Steel Band at 1 p.m. The Get Together Scratch Band will play at 4 p.m., and Sea Breeze Band will close out the celebration on Sunday night.
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