Dec. 18, 2004 Hundreds of doors normally locked up tight by 5 p.m. sharp were flung wide Friday night to welcome thousands of locals and tourists to the 13th annual Miracle On Main Street.
The party in Charlotte Amalie was a strictly no-scrooges-allowed affair from Emancipation Garden west to Market Square. Restaurants along Waterfront overflowed, retail stores bustled with holiday commerce, and the night was vibrant with that steelpan sound played better nowhere else in the world.
Ricky Mohanani, owner of Chalet D'or, was all smiles to see his landmark jewelry store full after dark. "It's fun to see local people getting a chance to get out and shop. Even if they don't buy tonight, they see what we have and they come back," he said before hurrying off to talk diamonds with an eager customer.
By 7:30 p.m. town was packed from Waterfront to Back Street, with mocko jumbies striding high above the crowds and more red-suited Santas handing out holiday treats than any child could ever dream of.
Unlike so many big St. Thomas gatherings, Miracle on Main Street means family time. Grandparents danced with grandchildren to the music of Milo's Kings who rocked out the Christmas tunes in front of the H. Stern store. Parents all along the party route watched with pride as their youngsters pounded out holiday cheer in steelbands.
Two players in the Bertha C. Boschulte School Burning Blazers band, Anthony Lewis and Brittney Jones, took time between songs to express their view of the downtown celebration. "It's great," they chimed from behind their pans before striking off into a lively rendition of "Holy Night."
Families, couples and friends alike went block to block stopping often to exchange hugs and warm Christmas wishes with those they knew. Petrus Korver, a goldsmith with Cardow, couldn't have been happier to share the evening with his expecting wife, O'nika Gilliam. "We can't go anywhere without running in to people we know – it seems like the whole island is here," he said, having to shout above the joyful din of the Antilles School Steel Hurricanes.
But it wasn't all just lights, music and shopping. A number of groups were on hand to remind revelers of more serious issues than sugarplums and candy canes.
The Humane Society of St. Thomas presented passersby tables laden with pet-themed gifts and goodies. Joe Elmore, the group's executive director, explained the organization never misses a chance to invite new members and bring the plight of island animals to the public's attention.
Members of Charlotte Amalie High School's Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps had set up shop and were wrapping gifts in exchange for donations. Lakwanda Pratt, taking a brief rest from papering and scotch-taping, explained the JROTC always takes advantage of the crowds during Miracle to raise a little money. "It's fun," she said, looking around at the lights and the rush of people, "It's beautiful."
And if the wild rumpus of Main Street got to be too much, there was a more soothing scene available along the Waterfront where the Boat Parade was in full but silent swing. Watercraft of every description floated back and forth across the harbor with blazing lights hoisted proudly aloft.
Jade Pratt, manager of Beans, Bytes and Websites, a popular downtown Internet café, passed some of the evening in the company of Steve Morton of Topa Properties. Standing at the entrance to Royal Dane Mall, the two discussed the feeling and energy of the night as the party swirled on around them. "This kind of environment should be created downtown every night," Pratt said wistfully. "Yes," Morton agreed, "It's amazing to see town so alive after dark."
All seemed to agree that this year's Miracle was a great success and, as always, much of the credit goes to the St. Thomas-St. John Chamber of Commerce and the hardworking members of the Destination Downtown Committee.
Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name, and the city and state/country or island where you reside.