At St Croix’s Christmas Festival, An Island Shows Its Strength

By Alexander Britell

FREDERIKSTED – Nobody seems quite sure what it’s called.

The Festival Village? The Village Festival? The Christmas Village? (Actually, it’s the Christmas Festival).

All that matters is that come Dec. 26 each year, Crucians say a simple refrain: “I’m going to the village tonight.”

This year, St Croix’s biggest event of the year had another name: the “Irmaria Stress Free Zone.”

The ribbon-cutting.

Each year, this US Virgin Islands holds its annual Christmas Festival, a fortnight-long event that brings together food stalls, bars, and talented musicians for a series of events and, well, general celebration.

But this year’s was more important than ever.

Even in light rain, Crucians and travelers showed up to show the region and the world that St Croix could not be defeated, that its recovery from the storms was very much underway.

Tuesday night’s festival opening featured a ribbon cutting, an impressive fireworks display and a performance by local talent Gyasi Clarke, who has found fame of late with his hurricane-inspired song, “Caribbean Strong,” one that was a major part of his set during the evening.

Perhaps more impressive was the collection of dozens of numbered food stalls, serving up everything from authentic Guyanese cuisine to the island’s famous pate, a delicious kind of bokit-patty-johnny cake hybrid. (On this count, stall #7 was the clear winner).

Gyasi Clarke performs at the festival.

But this event was about more than fried fish and fireworks. It was a symbol.

A symbol of recovery, of courage, of resolve.

St Croix is making its comeback, quickly and bravely.

And there’s only one name for that: strong.

 

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