Good Morning, Good Morning! How’s everyone doing out there today? I hope that your trees are up and twinkling and all of your elves have made their way off of the shelves 🙂 Sorry for the cheese, but I’m feeling a bit festive today! Because this weekend, the whole island of St. John will be ringing in the beginning of the holiday week in true Love City style. For the first time since 2019, Sun Dog Cafe and the Mongoose Merchants will put on their holiday BEST for the All-Island Holiday Party, lovingly known as St. John Prom.
Since 1995, the St. John Prom holds a special place in the hearts of everyone who has called this place home or been fortunate enough to visit during the month of December. It’s an incredible celebration of togetherness, holiday cheer and a homecoming of sorts as, by this time of year, everyone who is here for the season has made their way back home. And they are all gathered at Mongoose Junction for one of the largest gatherings of the year here in Love City.
But it is much more than just a holiday party! Prom began the Christmas after Hurricane Marylin ravaged the Virgin Islands and was a way for islanders to get cleaned up, put on a fancy dress (or pants) and celebrate their successes and achievements after several grueling months of post-storm clean up. That year and for a few years to follow, the event was hosted by Caneel Bay Resort before being taken over by Mongoose Merchants. The show has gone on EVERY year since then…Until December of 2020.
Hurricane Irma couldn’t even stop the holiday shenanigans from going down at Mongoose Junction. But, for the past two years this incredible event has been canceled due to the pandemic. In 2020, Michael Barry, owner of Sun Dog Cafe submitted to me an email that was brilliantly written and encapsulated the magic of this event. And the distress that he and his wife, Barbie, were under with the realization that prom simply could not happen given the current circumstances.
In any event (after Hurricane Irma), we approached the holiday season with real concerns about the logistics of the All-Island Holiday Party. Looking about Mongoose Junction, the tarped roof over our bar, the piles of construction materials here and there, and the plywood screwed into the broken glass of many shops, I did wonder, however briefly, if we should have this party.
That year, I didn’t yet have power at my house and still have video of the Christmas tree with the growl of the generator grating away in the background. Our staff had been decimated, many moving away instantly, so we went from 23 employees to 5.
The question became: “What about the prom?”
The party had been born when Hurricane Marilyn visited in Sept of 1995, and was held at Caneel Bay Resort. It was, by all accounts, a magic affair, as they celebrated life in the ruins of Marilyn, amidst the ruins at Caneel.
How could we do less?
This year (2020), COVID-19 will prevent us from doing what we love to do. It’s a small sacrifice, all things considered. But we can’t cancel it. No way.
So, with heavy hearts, the Barry’s and the crews at Sun Dog and Mongoose Junction “postponed” the event in 2020. And then again in 2021. But, this weekend, the highlight of Love City holiday cheer, this celebration of resilience (and the annual reason to dust off that one pair of high heels or closed toed shoes) will shine its light again this Saturday night at 9PM!
There will be a photo booth, passed apps and Barbie’s famous bourbon balls at Sun Dog, champagne toasts, satellite bars and dancing. If you happen to pass through, it is likely you won’t recognize most of us who live in our cutoffs and flip flops…Our daily attire will be swapped out with top hats and sequins and glitter and…Well you get the gist 😉
The following is the most recent message I received from our prom host, Michael Barry. And this one, I like a lot more than the All-Island Holiday Party PSA that I received just two years ago…The show will go on!
“A variety of appetizers will be supplied by the Sun Dog Cafe, celebrating 25 years of serving St. John. The Roast Beef Tenderloin Sliders, Maryland Crab Cakes, Tuna Tartare, White Artichoke Crostinis and more, while an ample supply lasts, and party veterans will be looking forward to Barbie’s Bourbon Balls for a sweet bite.
This year’s band is the imPROMtu All Stars, hosted by Lauren and Bo Magnie, starring John Magnie (of The Subdudes) and featuring Broheem, Laz and featured guest performances by (our LOVELY island administrator) Shikima Jones-Sprauve and others.
A variety of appetizers will be supplied by the Sun Dog Cafe, celebrating 25 years of serving St. John. The Roast Beef Tenderloin Sliders, Maryland Crab Cakes, Tuna Tartare, White Artichoke Crostinis and more while an ample supply lasts. And party veterans will be looking forward to Barbie’s Bourbon Balls for a sweet bite.
Several cash bars will be available, including a Wine Bar sponsored by Bellows and West Indies (distributors).
Our reigning prom king and queen, Nate and Megan Fletcher (of Blue Line Yacht Charters), will likely relinquish their crowns and scepters as Jason Monigold will set up a Prom photo booth and conduct the process for awarding the honors to the new king and queen.
The party is for adults only. We love children and think they should join us for The ‘I Believe’ Brunch with Santa from 9 am to 11:30 am on Dec 24th. Island fancy dress, please. No Pets.” – Michael Barry, Sun Dog Cafe
So, join us at Mongoose Junction this weekend if you are here on St. John to share in the holiday cheer, hug your favorite bartenders and island residents and dance the night away! If you aren’t here this weekend, you might want to mark your calendar for next year’s trip to Love City…This event is something that everyone should experience just once!
Oh, and did I mention it’s also my birthday party? Michael and the Mongoose Merchants make my celebration really easy each year. All of my favorite island people are already all decked out and all in one place. They even provide the drinks and decor 😉
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention another very important event happening this weekend. And this one is for the kiddos! Holiday Kidchella, a wonderland for the children, will take place tomorrow evening in the gravel lot near the tennis courts in Cruz Bay. Island residents will have their cars decorated for the holidays to provide a space for the kids (and adults!) to gather and celebrate the season. Live music will be provided by Love City Pan Dragons and dance performances by the Dynamic Dancers. Music and entertainment by the kids, for the kids. I love it!
Many of your favorite island businesses will be onsite, providing more ways to eat, drink and be merry! Food, drink, treats and additional activities will be provided by St. John Scoops, Irie Pops, Salt Deck USVI, Chef Vince Alterio & friends, St. John Brewers, Coral Bay Catering, Shambles- St John USVI, The Windmill Bar and That Dope Henna Lady
This year will be extra special because it will also be a fundraiser for Nana Baby Children’s Home, a 24-hour emergency care facility to assist children in crisis. Organizers, Jaimee Payne, Dana Griffith Neil and Kate Nesbitt will have a car set up to collect donations to make Christmas wish lists come true for kiddos in the care of the children’s home. The donations can be in the form of cash or a toy. If you are interested in contributing to the wish lists, you can visit Amazon to fulfill some of the holiday dreams of the children on island (Wishlist Number One – Wishlist Number Two). Raffle tickets will also be available on site with a lot of really amazing prizes that will make your holiday season even brighter!
If you happen to be on island this weekend, PLEASE, get out and pop in to one or both of these awesome events. My folks were here the December after Irma and were able to see some of our holiday cheer in person and my dad still says the following every year at this time….
“No one celebrates the holidays like St. John.”
I tend to agree, Dad. I tend to agree.