The Meaning Behind St. John’s July 4th Festivities

Freedom statue in Cruz Bay park – Image credit: Steve Simonsen

Hello everyone, and happy July 4th! The Fourth of July is usually a day of nonstop celebration on St. John beginning with j’ouvert (pronounced joo-vay) – a street party that begins at daybreak, followed by a parade that features great music, dancing and so many amazing and colorful troupes! The evening typically includes fireworks over Cruz Bay, which is then followed by hours of music and dancing over at the Village. But as we all know, this year is different for all of us. Festival has been cancelled, which means we will have to celebrate twice as much next year!

The Fourth of July is a big deal on St. John. But the reason it is celebrated so much on the island is much different than why it is celebrated in the States.

David Whitney Knight Sr. is a St. John historian, who often shares interesting content regarding the island’s history on his Facebook page. For the past few years, he has reminded us all why July 4th is such an important day in St. John’s history. Here is a portion of what he wrote yesterday:

This is why July 4th is such a significant date in the history of St. John:
Word of Emancipation first reached St. John on July 4, 1848.

Late in the afternoon the owner of the Lamesure plantation, Captain Ingjald Mourier, arrived at Cruz Bay from St. Thomas bringing word of the Governor-General’s pronouncement of Emancipation. After hastily informing Police Master Carl Hanshell of the news, Mourier and Hanshell set out on horseback to inform the people in the countryside. Just after sunset, the enslaved populati

on on Estate Adrian were the first to learn of their newly achieved freedom.

According to the last pre-Emancipation census carried out in the Danish West Indies on October 5, 1846, there were 105 “Unfree” individuals toiling on the Adrian plantation at that date.

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Airline Update: More Daily Flights Being Added!

Honeymoon

Hello everyone, and happy Tuesday! Today we’re talking about the airlines. I know that many of you are very eager to visit St. John. For some of you, that trip may be in the near future and for others, it may be several months or possibly a year or so away. Either way, we’re happy that you intend to visit whenever that may be. (Provided, of course, that you all wear your facial coverings when required, follow social distancing guidelines, etc.) Today we have some airline news that may help with your inevitable trip planning.

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Explore STJ: The Island’s Only Native Palm that Remains

Tyre palms are growing in front of the boiling room at Cinnamon Bay.

Hello everyone, and happy Thursday! Today we’re talking trees. I’m sure some of you are thinking to yourselves, how exciting can a tree be? Well I’m here to tell you that it can be exciting! Today I’d like to tell you about the island’s only native palm tree that currently exists on St. John – the tyre palm.

Many of you may remember the two beautiful coconut palms that nearly crisscrossed at the western edge of Maho Bay. Those trees, and numerous other coconut palms that lined Maho Bay beach, were uprooted or toppled during Hurricane Irma back in 2017. Many of you expressed interest in replanting those trees, and a few residents even buried a handful of fallen coconuts in an effort to regrow the coconut palms. Those baby palms were removed by the National Park and many people were frustrated. And then we learned why they were removed… because they were not native to the island. Only native plants are allowed to be planted in the National Park.

The Maho Bay palms that fell in 2017. Image credit: Steve Simonsen

As I initially mentioned, the tyre palm is the only remaining palm tree on St. John that is native to the Virgin Islands. According to the National Park, its broad leaves were used as thatching for pre-Colombian and colonial huts and for durable brooms even in modern times.

The fibrous inner bark was woven into hammocks (a pre-Colombian word and invention) and fish traps. Since the palm weave is chewable, it worked very well when catching fish, especially when compared to today’s wire traps.

Tyre palms can be seen throughout the island. There are numerous planted throughout the Cinnamon Bay sugar factory ruins on the North Shore. Check out a few pics we took…

See, I told you trees could be exciting! 🙂

The next time you’re on St. John, be sure to look for a tyre palm, the island’s only remaining native palm. And if you’d like to explore the island a little deeper, I would love to show you around! I am now booking Explore STJ island tours for the fall and winter season. You can learn more at www.ExploreSTJ.com. Have a wonderful day everyone!

What a Week!

Klein Bay Friday

Hello everyone, and happy Saturday! It’s me, Jenn! I know that last week I said I planned to tell you about something very cool on the island this week, but we had such an amazing last few days here that I thought I’d share some details on that today instead.

So as you know, the island reopened for tourism on June 1. Many people were apprehensive, including myself, for a variety of reasons. And truthfully, I wasn’t certain how many of you would choose to travel here. But you’re here, and I am so excited about that!

The first week of the month was pretty slow. It seemed that travelers were trickling in, but we were in no way busy. Tourism this past week, however, has definitely picked up. I’ve seen a lot rental Jeeps cruising around the island, and a great deal of parking spots in town have been full. The beaches have had more people scattered about, but they’re still relatively quiet compared to last June. I think that more people will continue to visit in the upcoming weeks, which is great for the island and our economy.

Ok, now let’s talk about the weather… It has been absolutely amazing the past few days. And so clear! I’ve been able to see St. Croix perfectly over the past few days from so many spots around the island. I’ve also been able to see a glimpse of Culebra from the Cruz Bay overlook. (Culebra is a small island off the eastern coast of Puerto Rico.) The Saharan dust is slowly starting to enter the Territory, so you might see a bit more haze in the sky today and again later next week.

Now let’s talk about our sunsets… oh the sunsets! They have been absolutely stunning over the past few days. Check out a couple of pics I took from my porch earlier this week:

Tuesday’s sunset – no filter!
Thursday’s sunset – no filter!

(I posted a few videos on my Explore STJ Facebook page if you want to check them out.)

I was out and about on an island tour earlier this week when I came across the most amazing thing ever… twin baby donkeys! They were the absolute cutest things ever! Ok, full disclosure here: I am not a veterinarian, so I cannot say 100 percent that they were twins. But they were the exact same size – all fluffy and adorable! – and they were with one other donkey who appeared to be their mom. So I’m pretty certain they were twins. Regardless, they were unbelievably cute!!

I was so excited to see the twin donkeys that I didn’t even snap a pic. I am so sorry about that! I guess you will have to travel here to see them yourself! I am heading out on an island tour today, and hopefully I am lucky enough to see them again! If I am, I will certainly take pics and video this time, so I can share these adorable little creatures with all of you!

Speaking of traveling here, let’s chat about airfare. I know it is tough right now, but there are great deals to be had if you are able to travel last minute. I’ve been keeping an eye on an upcoming Delta flight to Connecticut. The flight was $1,163 last Saturday. Yesterday, that very same flight was only $185. Unreal.

Now if you choose to travel here, please know that pretty much everything is open. (I know Hillary shared all of this information with you earlier this month.) But just as a quick recap, the beaches are open. The taxis are running. The car rentals are open. The majority of our shops and restaurants are open. (There are a handful of restaurants that are opening later this month – Banana Deck and The Terrace are two that come to mind.) Our charter boats are going out every day. We are open, folks. So come and visit us! If you are healthy of course… 🙂

Ok, well I feel like I am totally rambling, so I am going to end this post right here. I plan to check in with you all next week. But in the meantime, if you’d like to chat or get more information about my island tours, you can visit my new website at www.ExploreSTJ.com or my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/explorestj. And you can always reach me by email at [email protected]. Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Green Flash Captured on Film!

The green flash – Photographed by Steve Simonsen on June 3, 2020.

Hello everyone, it’s Jenn! I told you I’d be popping in from time to time, so here I am! Something pretty amazing was captured on film the other night, and I am very excited to tell you about it!

So if you’ve read the site over the years, you’re probably familiar with Steve Simonsen. He’s a photographer here on island, and his images are absolutely stunning. Well ever since this pandemic began, Steve and his wife Janet have been posting live sunset feeds over on their Facebook page every night between 6:20 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. (The current sunset time in Cruz Bay is just before 7 p.m.) They’ve captured the sunset from a variety of spots around the island including Trunk Bay, Mermaid’s Chair in Hawksnest Bay and from the top of Caneel Hill to name a few.

Read moreGreen Flash Captured on Film!