Dec. 8, 2003 Friday night will be bright lights. Friday night will be cheer. Friday night will be song and dance and food and friendship, as the 10th annual Miracle on Main Street transforms the road into a shopping mall dotted with bands, dancers, carolers, food, drink, bell-ringers and moko jumbies.
Gone will be the taxis. Gone will be the traffic. No one will want to know if you want to "go back to the ship." Everyone will want to know how you are, what you've been doing for the last year, how's your family, or, "do you have time for a drink?"
And it's not just Main Street. The waterfront will be alive with music from Imaginations Brass in front of Palm Passage. With about 75 retailers participating, Royal Dane Mall and all the little alleyways will be lighted up with Christmas specials, while across the street at 6:30 p.m. the third annual brightly decorated boat parade will sail by with carolers in high spirits and Christmas outfits.
"This year we will have nine boats," said organizer Susan Chandler. "And we have a 65-foot power yacht, Nasdar, too."
The boat parade has gone on for about 10 years, with carolers from the boat community singing their hearts out for the fun of it. This is the third year it has formally entered the Main St.event. And, Chandler said, they are still singing for the fun of it.
In its 10 years, the Miracle has become a tradition, the prime gathering of the year loved by locals for the opportunity to greet old friends and make new ones, and get in a bit of shopping.
"What it is is a lot of work," said Joe Aubain, St. Thomas-St. John executive director and one of the pioneers of the event.. "But it's a lot of fun, too. People tell me they wait for it all year long."
It just gets better every year in the eyes of the those who faithfully come downtown each year from around St. Thomas, St. John, Water Island and a few from St. Croix.
The local Chamber of Commerce and Bellows International sponsor the event. It's an all-volunteer production, and the volunteers are as faithful as those attending. Several of those in at the start are planning this year's event, including Maria Ferreras of Topa Insurance Services and Cerene Johnson of Fabric in Motion.
Remembering the first year, Ferreras said, "Nobody thought we could do it, and now it's become like a holiday for local people." Johnson agrees with Aubain it is a lot of work. "We do the advertising, get the bands, the choirs, the security," she said, "and it works."
The party starts long before dark with an arts-and-crafts fair from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Emancipation Garden by the Committee to Revive Our Culture. Chairwoman Dorothy Elskoe said she anticipates about 60 booths filled with paintings, jewelery, ceramics, crafts and local food.
Traditionally, the event ends at Market Square, with local ladies selling their wares and bands playing, but since the roof of the Sanderilla Thomas bungalow collapsed earlier this year after being hit by a truck, the festivities will end at the Enid Baa Library.
And the library is ready, said Friends of the St. Thomas Libraries chairwoman Carol Lotz-Felix. It will be open from 5 to 8 p.m. "There will be activities for children on the lower level. We are selling hot chocolate and cider in the lower level," she said.
In the "beautifully decorated" garden behind the library, Lotz-Felix said, the Frederick Lutheran Church Handbell Choir will bring music along with the Methodist Church Choir, the Albert Lynch Boys' Choir and a quartet from the University of the Virgin Islands. The library will be open to lend out books and process library-card applications.
Bands will include Cool Sessions Brass, the Antilles Steel Band, the St. Thomas All Stars and Milo's Kings. The event officially runs from 5 to 9 p.m., but after nine o'clock the bars and restaurants shift into high gear. All the restaurants downtown participate in the event.
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