Music sounded, goods abounded and, armed with equal amounts of determination and shopping bags, St. Thomas' finest bargain hunters poured into the United Way fifth annual Flea Market on Saturday morning in Emancipation Garden.
The event has become a kind of singular tradition, with old friends exchanging greetings and advice, holding up a piece of clothing or, perhaps a cheeseburger telephone or a two-foot tall plaster giraffe.
A very tired but happy Yanick Bayard, United Way president, said afterwards it was all worth it.
"We took in about $6,000, but we still have a few tallies not yet in," Bayard said. "I'm very excited anything over $5,000 is exciting when you are selling such inexpensive things."
Bayard was one of several local personalities, including Andrea Martin (and Gabby), Ellen MacLean, event chairperson, and Thyra Hammond who donated their time to the affair.
The event was really a team effort, Bayard said, and all countries were definitely heard from, up to and including a juggler, Steve Posterman, of the University of the Virgin Islands, who was tossing knives and flying torches around. But that's to name just one.
The Civil Air Patrol, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and the Downstreet People's Youth in Action Steel Orchestra all pitched in. They sold all the tickets to a raffle, 500 at a dollar each, helped set up and break down the booths and displays, sold cakes, hot dogs and hamburgers, and tried their hand(s) at crowd control. And the orchestra played.
Victim Advocates, Catholic Charities, Ebenezer Gardens Senior Center and the St. Thomas Reformed church all had food and drinks for sale. The American Red Cross had plants and trees on the market.
Bayard said about 200 people came to shop, and not only locals. "We had lots of tourists from the ships stopping by," she said. "It was amazing. They were delighted to find the open air market and the local food and music, and they bought things, too sunglasses, belts and hats."
Though the market did well, Bayard said, United Way is still short of its campaign goal.
"We are still accepting donations," she pointed out hopefully.
The day ended at 3 p.m. with the raffle of lots of prizes, topped off by a $450 diamond ring donated by H. Stern Jewelers, and won by Civil Air Patrol cadet Ronald Fahie.
"Oh. . . . I'm going to give it to my mother!" he said, providing a happy ending to the sun-filled day.