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Coral Bay Community Gathers for Holiday Festivities

Dec. 19, 2007 — As it has for more than 40 years, the Coral Bay community Wednesday came together to celebrate Christmas.
Even at the start, the Coral Bay area's various neighborhoods stood front and center to sing their hearts out, said Alvis Christian, master of ceremonies.
"I'm glad somebody knows the words," Norm Gledhill said as he took his seat after singing with his Calabash Boom neighbors.
All but two of the original organizers — George January, 86, and his wife, Eirleen, 76 — are gone, Christian noted. The couple stood up and sang "Silent Night."
The community party was dedicated to the late Lucy Smith-Prince, one of the initial group of people who organized the event. She died in September.
Over the years the annual community Christmas party kept getting bigger, Christian said. It moved locations several times to accommodate the crowd until it ended up at its current location at the Guy Benjamin School basketball court.
Guy Benjamin himself, still a hearty singer at 94, said that years ago Christmas in Coral Bay was centered around Emmaus Moravian Church, which still stands like a sentinel over the community. Years ago, he said, every family bought a Christmas ham.
"I was a greedy little boy and couldn't get enough ham," he said, laughing.
As a boy, he got a top in his Christmas stocking. And his favorite uncle always bought him a gift from St. Thomas.
"And the Red Cross sent us presents," he said.
In leading the opening prayer, Benjamin said he was glad he was able to attend the annual Christmas party for yet another year.
In addition to the Calabash Boom neighbors, participants included groups from Emmaus Moravian Church, the Coral Bay Community Council, Upper Carolina and Skinny Legs Bar and Restaurant.
Ernest Matthias said he wishes the Coral Bay community would come together more often.
"In ever day life, we're going too fast," he said, longing for a time when neighbors had time to get together.
Over the years, several traditions evolved, including Pam Gaffin's annual distribution of candy canes.
"It's my present to everybody," she said.
The arrival of Santa Claus on the back of a fire truck is another tradition that has continued for years.
"Ho, ho, ho," he said as he stepped off the truck into throngs of children waiting for their presents.
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