Oct. 27, 2003 – For those who think authorities have found every possible means of driving home the message to avoid the use of illegal drugs and the abuse of legal ones, St. John volunteer Elmo Rabsatt can always find something new.
On Monday, "Pledge Day" of this year's National Red Ribbon Week, while other volunteers were at post offices on St. John and St. Thomas collecting signatures from those who promised to live drug-free, Rabsatt set up a display to convince those who weren't sure. On a table sat a chemist's beaker on a stand with rubber tubing, a human skull, a set of shark jaws and two alligator heads nestled one into the other.
"What I'm trying to explain to them," Rabsatt explained, is that "in the drug world, the alligators eat each other, and it's a dog-eat-dog world out there. And the sharks — all the drug dealers out there are like sharks. They're out there to snatch you up in a heartbeat."
In a canvas chair beside the table-top display sat Rabsatt's sidekick, also named Elmo — and not the cuddly, tickle-me type Elmo, although his skeletal ribs were available for a playful touch. Dressed in a running suit with a big cigar clenched in his jaws, Elmo the skeleton was a sure winner with passing tourists, who buddied up while Rabsatt obliged them with souvenir snapshots.
"My skeleton is displaying what happens to you when you do illegal drugs or any kind of abuse of any kind of substance," he said.
More somberly, two helpers greeted passersby, handing them red ribbons to stick on their clothing and fliers with a photo of Enrique Camarena, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration undercover agent whose kidnapping and murder in 1985 triggered the annual Red Ribbon Week commemoration. The flier states that Camarena's widow helped launch the annual event as a way of convincing her sons that their father had not died in vain.
For a rundown of what else is taking place on St. John and St. Thomas during Red Ribbon Week, see "A week to commit to a drug-free community".
Rabsatt said Thursday's activities on St. John promise to be exciting for young people — an anti-drug march and rally and a simulated drug drop scheduled to take place in Cruz Bay Harbor.
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