The Christmas festivities may start in Frederiksted but the party that puts them to rest is in Christiansted. The Crucian-Rican & All Ah We Tramp and Breakfast got off to its musical start pretty close to 6 a.m. Wednesday and the crowd along Christiansted streets appeared bigger and happier than ever.
But even with the rhythmic music of Stanley and the 10 Sleepless Knights rolling down King Street and the bodies of dancers before and after the truck moving with the beat; a note signaling the end of the holiday season was in the air too.
“I brought some holiday visitors here for the last lap before they head home,” said Neil Canton, waiting in Christian “Shan” Hendricks Vegetable Market, where volunteers were in the shelter preparing a free Crucian-Rican breakfast for all comers.
The line for the breakfast began winding through the market square at 7:30 a.m. before the tramp was even finished.
Gloria Joseph, one of the original organizers of the breakfast, said all of the food is donated by individuals and prepared by around 75 different people.
“It takes a lot of work, but we always get it together to begin serving at 8 a.m,” Joseph said. “I feel good doing it for the memory of George “Bagoon” O’Reilly, who started the breakfast.”
Butchy Petersen was frying potatoes and organizing the preparation of pancakes, eggs and slow roasted turkey. He had also prepared a huge pot of his famous rice and beans.
“We prepare for people from the whole island,” Petersen said. “And if they aren’t here they missed a lot of good food.” He said he looks forward to taking part and he has cooked for the event since it began.
Jun Belardo was roasting whole pigs in his 60 and 110 pound capacity Pork on Wheels barbeques.
“We try to do our best to make sure we have enough for everyone that comes to breakfast,” Belardo said. “We like to give back to the community to keep the legend of George “Bagoon” O’Reilly going, by giving free food.”
The tradition of the All Ah We Three Kings Day Tramp and breakfast started small in 2005. George “Bagoon” O’Reilly, a popular radio host and stalwart supporter of the St. Croix Christmas Festival who passed away in 2008, spearheaded it for its first three years, along with former Lt. Gov. Greg Francis. O’Reilly and Francis, then the St. Croix administrator, decided to start a teetee bread bake-off and hold it on the first Tuesday of the year, which happened to be Three Kings Day in 2005. Francis continued the tradition after O’Reilly’s passing in 2008, and the festivity is now in its 10th year. Most of the volunteers at the breakfast had T-shirts celebrating the 10 years on the front and with a picture of O’Reilly on the back.
The Department of Human Services had a safari taxi full of senior citizens who wanted to join the tramp but couldn’t walk the route that started at Basin Triangle and ended at the market.
Local artist Stuart Rames said he took a break from painting to join the tramp and have fun.
“This tramp is wonderful,” Kye Martin said. “I never miss it.”