Monthly Archives: December 2020
Video from Thursday afternoon of what two Blacktip Island residents claim was the mythical Manta Claus bringing Christmas gifts to island residents. (video courtesy of Linford Blenny)
A pair of Blacktip Island residents fishing from shore Christmas Eve recorded video of what they claim was Manta Claus on his way to deliver holiday gifts to islanders.
“It was almost dusk when me and ‘Tonio seen a commotion in the water just off the dock,” Linford Blenny said. “It was something big, flapping its wings. Pretty sure it had a red cap and a bag full of toys, too. I pulled out my phone right quick and got footage to prove it.”
Blenny’s companion confirmed the sighting.
“The fish stopped biting, there was a sparkle in the air and a tingle down my spine,” Antonio Fletcher said. “Knew something important was gonna happen out there. Could feel it down deep. Then BAM! there was Manta Claus flapping in the sea, just like the stories say.
“With Santa not being able to come to Blacktip this year ‘cause of the COVID quarantine, we knew Manta Claus would come early, doing double duty,” Fletcher said. “For years folks been saying he’s a myth. Well, now we got proof. This isn’t Dermott saying he saw a platypus behind the Sand Spit. We got by-God video.”
Many islanders welcomed the news.
“This was shaping up to be a rough Christmas for the kiddos, big and small, what with Santa being banned,” Chrissy Graysby said. “Word about Manta Claus spread around the island like you wouldn’t believe. It’s the happiest I’ve seen people in months.”
Others questioned the sighting.
“It’s a great island myth—the manta ray who brings goodies to good scuba divers, and dead lionfish to ones with crap buoyancy,” Jay Valve said. “This story picked up everyone’s spirits, but there’s no evidence this was anything but a normal, everyday manta ray.
Some brushed aside such criticism.
“If Jay wants to be a Scrooge, that’s fine, but he shouldn’t spoil the holiday for the rest of us,” Christa Goby said. “Besides, if you don’t really believe in Manta Claus, he won’t slip under your door and leave you any presents anyway. You just wait and see. “How do you think presents get to a tropical island, some old man in a fur coat and his reindeer?” Goby said. “Please. It’s Manta Claus and his eagle ray helpers who fill kids’ stockings and eat the conch fritters we leave out for him. Santa handles the gifts north of here, and Manta covers us from the West Pole.”
Blacktip Island holiday parade organizers are hoping this year’s all-inclusive theme will attract more than the one car that participated in last year’s Christmas parade. (photo by Wendy Beaufort/BTT staff)
Blacktip Island will host a cross-denominational holiday parade Saturday afternoon, celebrating the multiple religions with holidays in December island residents will be observing, organizers said.
“We started out planning the annual Christmas parade, but then a hullaballoo broke out between members of different religions,” Blacktip Island Ecumenical Council president Jerrod Ephesians said. “Folks wanted us to include Hanukkah, Kwanza, Pancha Ganapati, Yule, Chalica and a bunch of others I can’t remember.
“The compromise solution was to have a generic ‘holiday’ parade,” Ephesians said. “It didn’t make everybody happy, but at least it shut some people up. Mostly. This year, deck your float out any damn way you please and get in the spirit of the holiday of your choice.”
Residents welcomed the compromise.
“For a while it looked like there’d be no parade,” Chrissy Graysby said. “It’s wonderful it’s back on, whatever the theme, given all that’s happened this year. People need a pick-me-up, and a parade, no matter how small, will do just that.
“The name of the holiday doesn’t matter much to me,” Graysby said. “I just like to watch all the flashing lights and hear the music. And the kiddos love to see the floats go past, even if it only takes a minute or two.”
Organizers were unsure how large the parade would be.
“Right now, it’s slated to have three cars, but there may be more. Probably will be, depending on holiday drinking,” Kay Valve said. “There’s always last-minute additions, and people joining the parade after it starts. Usually yahoos on scooters, but last year Dermott Bottoms cut in with the construction haul truck. Didn’t even realize he was in a parade, he was that toasted.
“The Blacktip Haven float will be totally non-religious,” Valve said. “Elena Havens read ‘ecumenical’ as ‘ecological,’ and by the time she realized, it was too late for a re-do, so they’re doing a Save Our Mother Ocean float. There’s also rumors the pagans are doing a Mōdraniht float, but we’ll see if they show up so close to Solstice.”
Others were vocal in their support.
“The all-inclusive theme’s just what this island needs to pull folks together,” Rocky Shore said. “No one’s excluded. And there’s no war on Christmas, just on a-holes. We’re encouraging everybody to respond to whatever holiday greeting they get with, ‘thanks, you too.’ Xmas, Xmas Xmas! That’s right, I said it!”
The parade will be followed by other cross-denominational festivities, Ephesians said. “There’ll be beach Yule fires, plus food and drinks for everyone afterward,” he said. “We’ll have eight fires roaring between Club Scuba Doo and the Sand Spit bar as a kind-of implied menorah, to cover as many bases as possible. Guests are free to view the fires religiously or non-religiously, depending on their personal preference. Either way, we want folks to have a good time. And over-indulgers are welcome to crash in the resort’s hammocks.”
Blacktip Island author Tim W. Jackson this week was named an award finalist in the American Book Fest’s 2020 Best Book Awards for his latest humor novel, The Secret of Rosalita Flats.
“It’s an honor to have my novel selected as one of the top books of the year,” Jackson said. “Looking at the other finalists, Rosalita Flats is in great company. It’s been getting great reviews, but I’m happy to receive this kind of recognition, too.”
Island residents were appreciative of the award.
“I think it’s great, him writing so much, and being publicly rewarded for it,” divemaster Alison Diesel said. “Anything that keeps him busy, off the streets and out of the bars is a plus!”
Others were less unimpressed.
“Don’t see the point of him getting an award for writing all those lies about us,” handyman Antonio Fletcher said. “It just encourages him to tell more. Dermott Bottoms is out hunting him down right now, gonna smack some respect into him after he called Dermott a mersquatch.”
The Secret of Rosalita Flats, the second Blacktip Island novel, is available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Secret-Rosalita-Flats-Blacktip-Island-ebook/dp/B08BQCH6TJ ; Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-secret-of-rosalita-flats/id1520444924?id=1520444924&ign-itsct=books_toolbox&ign-itscg=30200 ; Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1029342 ; and Jackson’s website: http://www.timwjackson.com/
The Blacktip Island Community Players will perform their take on the children’s classic The Poky Little Puppy at the Caribbean island’s Heritage House this weekend. (photo courtesy of Doris Blenny)
The Blacktip Island Community Players will stage their version of the children’s classic storybook The Poky Little Puppy Saturday and Sunday evenings at the island’s Heritage House to kick off the small Caribbean island’s holiday season, BICP organizers said.
“After last year’s melee between the folks involved in the Christmas and the Bodhi Day plays, we wanted to celebrate the season with something that would get as few people riled up as possible,” BICP director Doris Blenny said. “We chose The Poky Little Puppy as a work that celebrates goodness, but is totally non-religious.
“It has no references to holidays at all, but has a positive message at the end,” Blenny said. “Children will love it. And some of our slower adults as well. And really, what says, ‘Holiday Season’ more than a naughty bulldog puppy?”
Community members praised the choice, for the most part.
“It’s morality play, really,” the former Reverend Jerrod Ephesians said. “It reinforces the idea that your actions will eventually catch up with you. You can’t go poking around stealing all the dessert and digging under fences without facing consequences.
“It’s the lesson in karma the Christmas season’s been crying for, especially on this island,” Ephesians said. “Lots of people here could learn a thing or two from this. They won’t, but it won’t be from lack of exposure to the message.”
Some objected to the play’s lack of religious focus.
“It’s Christmas. There should be a Christmas play,” the Rev. Pierre Grunt said. “All this snowflake, ecumenical hogwash is ruining the season for those of us who take it seriously. Although, with everything else that’s happened in 2020, I suppose I should have expected something cockamamie like this.”
The cast includes:
- Marina DeLow as the Poky Little Puppy
- Gage Hose, Alison Diesel, Finn Kiick and Antonio Fletcher as the other puppies
- Lee Helm as the puppies’ mother
- Jessie Catahoula as the Brown Hop-Toad
- An iguana as the Quick Green Lizard
- Corrie Anders as the strawberry shortcake
Cast members praised the choice of plays.
“This role will really help me stretch my talents and grow as a performer,” DeLow said. “I’d been stuck in a rut the last few holiday seasons, always cast as a camel at the manger or Mrs. Claus. This is a great opportunity, and the subject is certainly topical.”
Traditionalists vowed to boycott the play.
“We’ll have a proper church service at the same time as the play, for all those interested in keeping the Christmas in Christmas,” Grunt said. “We can’t stop Doris and them from performing their monstrosity, but we can provide an appropriate alternative, complete with singing, a sermon and offering plates.”
Ugh. Wednesday. Smiling dolphins will make it better: