There was nothing small about the “mini-festival” hosted by the Crucian Christmas Festival Committee at the Herbert Grigg Home for the Aged Saturday. Despite the rain, a few hundred revelers turned out to join the home’s 42 residents in a celebration that was billed as a taste of everything the Christmas Festival has to offer.
“Most of our residents are homebound, bedridden, and unable to attend the festival,” explained Ana Velez-Martinez, executive director of the home. “So that was the idea, to bring the festival to them.”
The home’s small courtyard was packed with food concessions, craft vendors, and performers waiting their turn to take the stage. Stanley and the Ten Sleepless Knights were set up under a tent and provided music throughout the event.
The home’s residents, most in wheelchairs, watched from under an awning, safe from the rain. First they watched St. Croix Majorettes hustle through their baton routine, followed quickly by a pair of mocko jumbies from the Mocko Jammerz Group.
Bernice Sprott, one of the residents, smiled and nodded along as the We Deh Yah Cultural Dancers performed a quadrille to a quelbe rendition of “Deck the Halls.”
“I’ve seen them on TV, but never close by,” she said.
Sprott sid that she did not grow up on St. Croix, but decided to retire here. She found her health prevented her from going out much, however, so for three years she mostly stayed in her apartment before moving to the Herbert Grigg Home. She said she’s never gotten to experience the holiday festival before.
“This is my first Christmas I’m out in the open, and I’m very happy,” she said. “This is beautiful. Beautiful to see everything.”
This was exactly the reaction Davidson Charlemagne, president of the Christmas Festival, was hoping for.
“The goal of this was to bring the festival spirit, the Christmas spirit, to our elderly,” he said.
This is the second year the Christmas Festival has worked with the Grigg home to put on the event. Charlemagne said it was important to him that the island’s elders not be left out and that all generations celebrate together.
“My grandmother, she raised me, so I respect the elders,” he said.
He added that he hoped the small children in the audience would learn from the example they were setting that they should honor and respect their elders.
Regardless, Charlemagne said it was all worth it just to see a smile on the residents’ faces.
“I love to see the elders enjoy themselves,” he said. “At least I know, in my heart, I did something good. I feel good to see this happening. That’s all it is.”