A blast of the shofar rang out over the Joseph Aubain Ballpark Friday night, announcing the first of a two-night celebration of the annual Night Out, organized in collaboration with the V.I. Law Enforcement Planning Commission.
It’s the time of year when the community takes to the streets to take a stand, to let the criminals in the community know that it is fighting back.
‘This is our 23rd year," said Flemon Lewis, who has organized the event along with the Night Out committee for 18 of those years. The event is part of the National Night Out Against Drugs, Crime and Violence campaign.
This year, Lewis said, "We’re doing something new with two nights. This is our religious night. We’re bringing the churches together to take their message outside." It’s billed as a "musical night of peace, hope and love."
Pastor Jason Jordan of the Love of Christ Friendship Center welcomed all to come sing and celebrate the gospel. The ram’s horn, which was blown by parishioner Joel Gifft, is the traditional instrument of the Jewish faith, but Jordan pointed out, "it welcomes all faiths, it’s an invitation to all."
Friday evening started off with the youthful voice of Charlotte Amalie High School junior Brittany Thompson singing the national anthem and the Virgin Islands March, followed by the sweet sounds of vocalist Aquannette Chinnery.
Elegant in a sparkling gold blouse outfit, Chinnery pleaded, "Spread the gospel, whether a teacher, a preacher, a lawyer or a plumber, spread the gospel."
Booths were set up in the ballpark from community organizations including the Family Resource Center and Stop the Bleeding, along with the Night Out’s booth manned by veteran Delores Thomas.
The evening was filled with music including a rap pantomime from the International Gospel Center of St. Thomas, Church of Christ choir, Bethel Missionary Baptist Church and a history of Night Out by the committee.
Lewis said Saturday will be the grande finale when hundreds of citizens, neighborhood organizations, schools and businesses get together for the annual march from Emancipation Garden to the ballpark.
The evening is filled with music, honors for civic groups and individuals, with the police hierarchy, politicians and community leaders speaking.
Last year the ballfield was filled with activity from the time the bands poured in. They included the CAHS marching band, followed by the school’s JROT; the St. Thomas majorettes, dressed in Carmen Miranda outfits with bananas bouncing on their heads; the Junior Firefighters, marching in bright yellow helmets; the Sebastian Majorettes; National Guard; Savan Boys Club; Boys and Girls Clubs; and St. Thomas Rescue.