The 20th annual Miracle on Main Street started early Friday morning at Emancipation Garden where more than 60 vendors participated in the Christmas Fair produced by the Committee to Revive Our Culture.
The event is sponsored by the Destination Downtown Committee of the St. Thomas-St. John Chamber of Commerce. President Joseph Aubain said the committee had gone all out for a bang-up celebration this 20th year.
And, from the looks of this year’s Miracle, they made good on that goal.
Emancipation Garden was brightly decorated, red ribbons adorning the gazebo, and the lignum vitae trees bearing the ornaments traditionally made by local schoolchildren.
Vendors offered everything from an application to join the V.I National Guard to scented soaps and candy canes. The garden buzzed with life, and mounds of local food – tarts, breads, fish, candies, breads, and pates of every nature. Tents were set up with jewelry, hot sauces, wooden arts, cool local drinks, maubi, juices. And benches where folks stopped for a bite of Johnny cake or a chicken wing, just to relax and chat and enjoy the bounty surrounding them.
Miracle on Main Street was created 20 years ago by a group of Charlotte Amalie restaurateurs and retailers who wanted to draw the community and visitors downtown in the evening. It’s not only an idea that worked; it has blossomed into an all-day affair.
Cruise ship visitors Jan and Jim Boatwright displayed a carved wooden fish they had just bought from local woodworker Pat Berry.
"I like to buy from local artists," said Jim Boatwright, "and discuss their art with them." Both Boatwrights said they found St. Thomas "quaint," an observation rarely voiced. Jan Boatwright said, "St. Thomas isn’t as busy as San Juan. You can really talk to people here."
June Archibald and helper Chloe Bayer sold Archibald’s popular Precious Produce Farms organic jams and jellies – banana jam, mango chutney, tomato jam, mango pepper sauce – to name just a few, all from farmer Archibald’s Dorothea farm.
Meanwhile, Lucy of her eponymous Lucies Loosies displayed her colorful, one size fits all, drawstring dresses she makes out of beach wraps, a business she started recently when folks asked her about the outfits she wears and asked her to make them one. Now, she says she’s trying to dress the island in Loosies.
Around the corner on Main Street the Hanukkah spirit was on display in front of the Alvaro deLugo Post Office where Yaakov Chaipon was dispensing free menorahs to Jewish passers-by, or anyone else who was curious.
Standing over a bowl of tiny blue, red, green and blue colored dreidles, the spinning top used in childrens’ games, the young man said he was part of a group of Brooklyn rabbinical students here to help Rabbi Asher Federman with the Hanukkah celebration.
As the afternoon wore on, Main Street became miraculously transformed into its annual wonderland, with the stores beckoning eager shoppers, music around every corner and all along the street . The Joseph Gomez School High Steppers were there, mocko jumbies popping up everywhere, the Sebastian Majorettes, and, of course, the perennial favorite the Mungo Niles Cultural Dancers, heads held high performing as if for the first time.
About 7 p.m., the action turned to the waterfront for the annual Lighted Boat Parade, the highlight of the evening, or, at least, the one garnering the most oohs and aaahs. The 12 boats varied from the tiny to the majestic.
Winners of the Lighted Boat Parade:
- 1st place winner of $500 was Captain Benji Swartz of the motor vessel Morgan 1;
- 2nd place winner of $250 was Captain Bert Reynolds on the pirate ship Blackbeard’s Revenge;
- 3rd place winner of $125 was Captain Jimmy Jones on the motor vessel Friendship.
Captain Swartz immediately donated the entire cash award to the Nana Baby Children’s Home on St. Thomas. In the true spirit of the season, Swartz said, "The purpose of the parade is not to win but to share the holiday spirit with the entire community."
Editor’s note: Erik Ackerson contributed to this story.