Dec. 20, 2008 — Downtown Charlotte Amalie was alive Friday night with the vibrant sounds of steel drums, with jazz in the alleyways, with the excited cries of youngsters as they piled into Santa's lap where he had landed and set up shop in front of the Grand Hotel.
The harbor filled with its own light about 6:30 or so, as boats bearing Santas, stars and snowmen and at least one lighted reindeer, sailed slowly in front of the waterfront to the oohs and ahs of folks cheering the sailors on. The sailors, a spirited group, sang all the carols they could remember and then some, waving gaily to their shore side audience.
The boats are judged on lighting, special effects and ornamentation. Prizes will be awarded to the top three placing boats.
The 15th annual Miracle on Main Street, sponsored by the Destination Downtown Committee of the St. Thomas-St. John Chamber of Commerce, is always the jewel at Christmas but seemed even brighter this year.
"I've been coming for years," said Diane Brinker, and I think this is the best ever." Jill Anderson agreed. "It's great," she said. "Just look at all the booths, all the jewelry and crafts and local food," she said, while making her way to the cotton candy booth.
The Joseph Sibilly Elementary School band held the crowd in thrall as the youngsters pounded out carols, their eyes on their drums, serious in their school T-shirts and Santa hats.
The hedge surrounding the center fountain at Emancipation Garden was decorated this year in bright lightsl with the sparkling garden gazebo in the background, and the trees lighted from trunk to branch, the garden had all the air of a county fair, St. Thomas style. The fair, which started at 10 a.m., is sponsored by the Committee to Revive Our Culture.
Main Street burst with music and dance. On one corner the Mungo Niles Cultural Dancers bound from partner to partner, their headdresses flying, while down the block the Bertha C. Boschulte Burning Blazers held forth, their drums setting the folks wandering through to tapping and taking a step or two with friends along the stroll.
Weaving their way through the throng were members of Graffiti Street, which had a booth set in Post Office Square, holding high platters filled with cookies and candy bags for sale. Charlotte Amalie High School student Malachi Thomas, a bit taller than his colleagues, seemed to be having a grand time. "This is fun," he said with a smile that likely sold lots of goodies.
Barbara and Bill Kenny are veterans of the melee. "Oh, it's always just so much fun," said Barbara. "I can't remember how many years we've been coming. It seems to me we came when the kids were little, but that was more than 15 years ago."
Barbara Kenny is retired after 35 years with Sts. Peter and Paul School as principal and administrator. "We've been listening to our school steel band," she said, "our Angels of Steel. It's small but very good, and they seem to be doing just fine without me!"
Stores, open until 9 p.m., were filled with goodies — jewelry, art, clothing and more — many at discount prices for the evening. It wasn't immediately apparent whether the crowds were buying or just looking in the present worrisome economy, but whatever they were doing, they were have lots of fun doing it.
Participants in this year's celebration included the Mungo Niles Dancers, Ivanna Eudora Kean High School band and choir, Antilles Schools Steel Band, P'Your Passion band, the Bertha C. Boschulte Burning Blazers, the Caribbean Ritual Dancers, Cool Sessions Brass, the Voices of Love, Sts. Peter and Paul Angels of Steel, Milo's Kings, Encore Band, DJ Aluda, Sweeta Band, Lockhart Elementary Choir, Joseph Sibilly School Choir and Top Notch Band.
The evening wound up with a nod to Carnival; a mini-parade from Rothschild Francis Market Square to Emancipation Garden with floats from various local schools.
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