76.7 F
Charlotte Amalie
Thursday, January 26, 2023
HomeNewsArchivesIsland Royalty Help Launch Frenchtown Father’s Day Celebration

Island Royalty Help Launch Frenchtown Father’s Day Celebration

June 15, 2007 — The Joseph Aubain ballpark was dressed up Friday night for its annual transformation to a grass-covered musical ballroom where royalty reigns and the people dance and play all weekend, celebrating Father's Day in Frenchtown.
Miss Carenage of 2007, Celina Marie Edwards, accepted her role gracefully as she was formally crowned, starting off the three-day celebration. The other royalty presiding over the event was well-known Frenchtown figure Leon Danet — father, grandfather and baseball hero — who needs no crown.
In his quiet way, Danet has been an integral part of the French community for decades. He is one of the founding member of the Committee for the Betterment of Carenage, sponsor of the annual event.
CBC president Jean Greaux Jr. introduced Danet as a well-loved member of the community who has always made it a better place through his contributions over the years. Danet has supported several organizations including the Frenchtown Civic Organization, CBC and the Moby Dick Carnival troupe, of which he was a founding member. He retired from a 35-year career at Chase Manhattan Bank in 1994.
Edwards is a senior at the Space Coast Junior and Senior High School in Cocoa, Fla., where she is on the honor roll. She grew up on St. Thomas and belongs to the St., Anne's Chapel Youth Group and Choir.
A pretty teenager, Edwards was perfectly poised greeting her audience. She talked about how her grandfather taught her to "skin a yellowtail" while imparting to her the values of work well done and the importance of family. Edwards said she will pursue medical studies in the States as a respiratory therapist and cardiovascular technician, with the goal of practicing at the Schneider Regional Medical Center.
Edwards was joined on the stage by Amanda Suzanne Greaux, 2006 Miss Carenage, and 2007 Carnival Queen Esonica Viera.
Danet talked about the importance of a "good father," who must be present for his children — in the home, at school and at play.
Danet has been a steady presence in the lives of his children and grandchildren. He and his wife of 45 years, Virginia, have three grown children and three grandchildren. He presented his sons and later his grandsons with their very first baseball gloves.
An avid New York Yankees fan, Danet is known as “Mr. NY Yankee” of St. Thomas. He played for years, managing the Apaches softball team to eight championships and 12 league championships in tournaments throughout the Caribbean.
Words for Danet came from Moby Dick Carnival Committee founder Alan Richardson, whose name is synonymous with Frenchtown and who was last year's honoree. Richardson also had words for the evening's other royalty, Gov. and Mrs. John deJongh Jr. and Lt. Gov. and Mrs. Gregory Francis.
Richardson lauded Danet's contributions to Frenchtown, dating back to construction of the first Moby Dick float: "He was one of the five of us who started things here. We were a close group — not a gang like nowadays. A group, no guns."
Then Richardson launched into a rollicking acknowledgment of the presence of Cecile and Gov. deJongh on the bandstand. To a resounding round of applause, Richardson said, "It's about time we have the real governor of the Virgin Islands here in person. We are so tired of having the governor's representatives. And to have a real first lady and such a pretty one, too."
Richardson searched his memory before adding, "I think the last time we had the governor was in 1971 with Gov. Melvin Evans and Addie Ottley as Lt. Governor.”
Ottley, standing in the audience, laughed, as did the rest of the crowd.
DeJongh spoke movingly of his affection for Frenchtown and the significance of the event after first honoring Danet: "I worked with Leon at Chase bank, but I was so far down the totem pole then he didn't know me. The way he used to run up and down those three flights of stairs, I thought he was the general manager. Then I found out that he was, in his own way.”
The governor proceeded to praise Danet’s home base.
"Frenchtown represents a close community," deJongh said. "It's wonderful to see the youngsters here playing in the safety and comfort of the neighborhood. It is so important for fathers to be there in the lives of their children. There is no way that Gregory (Francis) and I could not be here tonight. We pledged to be with you. It is so important."
Francis added his own comments about fatherhood: "Fathers, including those of you who are absent, let’s get with our children. When I was a child, it was mandatory to go to church with my father. A father figure is so important in a child's life."
Later Francis and his wife, Cheryl, said this was their first Frenchtown Father's celebration. They looked around happily at all the food booths, the children running around and the dancing just starting. "This is wonderful," Cheryl Francis said, beaming.
The official program began with the singing of the French national anthem, "La Marseillaise," by the tiny members of Les Enfantes des St. Anne, the children's choir, a traditional part of the celebration and one that never loses its sentimental touch with the audience.
After the event, Richardson and Ottley reminisced about the "old days."
"We used to have a parade," Richardson said, "and it was so short it had to go three times around the block." Ottley recalled, "And anybody could be in it; they would all come out of the Normandie Bar and just join in."
The event concludes Sunday at 8 p.m. when prizes will be awarded for the Mother’s Day and pre-Father’s Day fishing tournaments.
Each night will feature some of the territory’s top bands: the Cool Session Band from St. John, St. Thomas’ Sweeta’ Band, Dr. Bernard Liburd, Milo’s Kings and Hartatak.
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.

Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.