Nov. 30, 2004 As the Najawicz family said good-bye to their cruise ship guests Tuesday evening, they were serenaded by the Dober School Chorus singing a medley of Christmas songs. In the background, a twinkling two-story Christmas tree towered above them and mocko jumbies danced through thousands of people. It wasn't a typical sendoff for the island's guests leaving by ship. The event that drew the crowd was the annual Christmas Tree Lighting at Havensight Mall.
"We had friends come in for the day who stayed longer just to see the tree lighting," said Peter Najawicz, who was there with his wife and 3-year-old daughter, Olivia. In fact, their friends were having so much fun, they nearly missed their ship.
If you're used to a white Christmas, you may have some trouble getting into the spirit of the season on a Caribbean island. But the spirit was in the air as crowds gathered to listen to the music, get some early shopping done and enjoy the company of friends.
"I can see everyone is having a great time," Najawicz, a St. Thomas resident, said. "This is such a hospitable population. Everyone is enjoying it locals, tourists and cruise ship passengers."
Linda Pinson of the Havensight Merchants and Professional Association has been organizing the event for the past five years, and says every year is a big success. She estimates the number of people who come to enjoy the festivities each year to be in the thousands.
"It's a lot of fun. A lot of people see each other only two times a year: Carnival and here," Pinson said.
The official tree-lighting ceremony started promptly at 6 p.m., but kids were lined up long before that to get the chance to meet Santa and his helpers, and hopefully receive a gift. "I bought 1,000 presents this year," said Pinson. "Last year I had 750 and we ran out. I hope we have enough for everyone."
Other activities included face painting and balloon sculptures for the children, and many booths were set up featuring arts, crafts and local foods. There were also beach balls bouncing around in the crowd, and raffle tickets were sold to benefit Dial-A-Ride. And, to encourage some early Christmas shopping, stores were open late.
Music for the evening was provided by Cool Sessions, Lashing Dogs, Milos Kings, Antilles School Steel Band, Bertha C. Boschulte Steel Band, Dober School Chorus, Voices of Love and Mocko Jumbie Jamboree. In Port of $ale, Outta Limitz was blasting their music.
The Christmas Tree Lighting was sponsored by Havensight Merchants and Professional Association, The West Indian Company, Ltd., Coors Light, Heineken, Bellows International, Ltd. and The Committee To Revive Our Culture.
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