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Labor Day Parade Keeps Traditions Alive

Sept. 6, 2004 – The Coral Bay Labor Day Parade was so good Pat Mortenson and her son, Earle, 14, had to see it twice. She hustled herself and her stroller-bound handicapped son down the road as Monday's parade passed them.
"We're going to watch the parade again. Earle loves them." She headed toward the beginning of the parade.
The annual Labor Day Parade doesn't last long – maybe 15 minutes – but residents line the streets to socialize, to see who put together a group and in the case of Mortenson, to see it again and maybe a third time.
This year, animals occupied the center stage thanks to efforts by the Animal Care Center of St. John.
"We're trying to raise awareness," said Bonny Corbeil, who volunteers at the Animal Care Center.
She said the people parading with their leashed dogs showed others how to properly care for animals. And they were careful to "scoop their poop," always an issue when dogs are out and about.
A pickup truck packed with kids touted the message to spay and neuter.
Some of the dogs were what the Animal Care Center calls rescue dogs – those that were abandoned or found wandering.
"We got Rosie from the Wagapalooza," explained Lori Walden, speaking about the annual June event that raises money for the Animal Care Center.
Of course, no St. John parade would be complete without the Middle Age Majorettes, a group of feisty twirlers wearing cover-the-body T-shirts printed with purple bikinis and expansive derrières. Some sported purple wigs. All wore big smiles as they made their way along Route 107 and East End Road from the Domino Gas Station to the Coral Bay Ballfield.
Ken Damon, waiting in his car for the parade to start, reminisced about the event's traditions. Damon, an alternative energy guru, said back in the early 1980s, he and a few others created a float that featured solar power.
As he chatted away, a passerby stopped to ask where the parade began.
"The question is when is it going start. That's a tradition too," Damon said.
This year, it was only an hour past the scheduled 11 a.m. start when Dana Bartlett and her donkeys strolled down the road to begin the parade.
While the event attracts mainly St. John residents, some did make the trip from St. Thomas. A woman who would give her name only as Nellie said she was disappointed not to find the VITRAN bus at the Cruz Bay dock as usual.
She said she and a friend paid a taxi driver $7 each to take them to Coral Bay. Unless they get a ride from someone heading to Cruz Bay, they'll also pay a similar amount to return.
She said she hadn't been to Coral Bay in years, but she came to see friends and to enjoy the food.
There was quite a selection set out on tables at the Coral Bay Ballfield.
"We have Jane's lobster salad, whelk, fried fish. You name it, Mommy has it," Juanita Johannes said, speaking about the delectable dishes lining her mother's table.
Mommy is Jane Johannes, who, as she does every year, was out getting the handful of troupes and floupes organized.
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