Well folks, it’s been a long year, but it’s been a great year! When I think about the progress that was made over the past 12 months, I can’t help but smile. Many of our residents started the year off without power, and many of our shops and our restaurants remained closed. There were very few tourists on island, and our trees still looked pretty funky. But now, 12 months later, I can say the entire island has power thanks to WAPA and BBC, who flipped on the last switch in late January. We now have dozens of shops and restaurants open! (You can see the entire list here.) Our beaches and trees and the island as a whole look great! And something that is extremely important to me… so many of you came back!!! Ahh, that truly warms my heart. So without further ado, let’s get on to the year in review!
As I mentioned, January was still a very tough month here on island, but I personally got a glimmer of hope 127 days after Hurricane Irma when the kind folks over at Love City Community Network installed donation-based internet service at my home. That meant that I could consistently share the news with all of you, which was simply fantastic and so very important to me. It also meant that I could stream television, which was very exciting too. I was able to watch Good Morning America each morning – one of my favorite shows – although I had to watch it a day late due to the streaming, but I didn’t care! (It was also funny to try to talk about the world news with my parents when I was always a day behind – lol. Me: Hey dad, it looks like your going to get a lot of snow today. Papa News: Ummm, that happened yesterday … Oops!) It’s the little things in life, folks. Clearly.
Love City Community Network continued to connect people through out the year, and we are all so very fortunate for that! They’re a non-profit that’s doing great work, so if you’re looking for an end-of-the-year tax donation, please consider them.
Things continued to look bright later in the month as the very last boat was removed from the beach in Cruz Bay. It was little things like that that really made us feel a bit normal again. And that was super important over the course of the year.
In early February, we received a very famous guest here on island … former President Bill Clinton! It was very exciting to many of us who live here. No matter what your political stance is, it’s always cool to have a president visit your neighborhood. And in my opinion, not much is cooler than sitting at the bar at High Tide and watching a former president stroll by in his sneakers.
But that was’t the only famous guest to visit us back in February. Kenny Chesney also paid a visit to the island, which isn’t newsworthy as this is his second home, but what is newsworthy is the fact that he played a very impromptu, surprise performance over at Sun Dog. So very cool! We also had three popular businesses reopen in February – High Tide, Morgan’s Mango and Colombo’s Smoothie Stand – more signs of a return to normalcy. Yahoo!
Two more popular restaurants reopened in March. Both Miss Lucy’s and Aqua Bistro began serving customers once again, signaling a huge steps toward normalcy for our friends over in Coral Bay.
The water was turned back on at Trunk Bay in early April, which doesn’t sound like a big deal but it certainly was to many of us. It meant that the showers and toilets were operable once again, allowing visitors to enjoy the beach with some modern conveniences.
Maho saw some great progress too in April. The parking lot renovation was finally completed, as were the repairs to the areas of roadway that were washed out during Hurricane Irma. Good news all around!
Wharfside slowly started to reopen in May. As you know, the waterfront complex sustained tremendous damage during the hurricanes and is still being rebuilt today. Fingers crossed that The Beach Bar reopens in January! And hopefully Joe’s Rum Hut reopens sometime soon after that!
We ended the month by celebrating our fifth anniversary here at News of St. John. Time sure does fly when you’re having fun!
We started out June with a bang by holding our annual News of St. John raffle! This year was our best yet, as we raised more than $100,000 for Island Health and Wellness … simply amazing!!
In more Kenny Chesney news, he released a song about the island in June. He also announced his plans to donate 100 percent of the proceeds from his Songs for the Saints album to our recovery efforts. Whether you’re a country music fan or not, you have to admit that this guy is a class act.
Customs finally reopened in June, as did the new Tap Room, three-and-a-half years after a fire destroyed its original location. If you haven’t been there, you are truly missing out. It’s easily one of my favorite watering holes on island.
We had two big things happen in July… First, we celebrated Carnival and for the first time in a long time, I saw pure joy on so many faces here on St. John. It was such a beautiful sight! And a big thing in my world happened in July… Baby News of St. John made his debut!! Baby update: He now has two teeth, has tried some solid foods but has yet to sleep through the night. So if you see me bleary eyed in town, you now know why.
The first anniversary of hurricanes Irma and Maria came and went in September. Two local photographers made a beautiful video featuring many of us to mark the occasions.
In October, we learned that Gibney Cottages were going to be featured on the November cover of Coastal Living which was a huge deal here on island! The good news was quickly followed with some sad news as the Lumberyard was finally torn down.
The month of October ended on a positive note, however, as our first cruise ship of the winter season arrived in Cruz Bay and The Beach Bar finally started to rebuild!!
Our barge troubles started to end in November as the new Grand Vic arrived, and what a great sight it was! I have yet to ride on it personally, but I hear it’s fast. And an added bonus: It has a bar onboard! Cheers to that!
Earlier this month, we learned that a privately owned parcel across from Maho Bay sold and that a food truck and tiki bar were soon going to be operating on site. The folks over at Cinnamon Bay began operating a food truck, bar and retail truck over at Trunk Bay increasing the number of beaches with food and drink options to two. With the impending opening of the Maho spot, we will soon have three beaches where food and drinks are available.
Kekoa returned to the water this month after being repaired over at Hansen Bay for more than a year. What a great sight that was!
And lastly, St. John has been minimally affected by the government shutdown. Fortunately local businesses, nonprofits and private residents have stepped up to remove the trash and open up restrooms to beach goers. Always so much love here in Love City.
Well folks, that’s it! What a year it’s been! Here’s to a great 2019! Cheers everyone!