Tag Archives: Caribbean Christmas

Unknown Thieves Steal Blacktip Island Church Cross-And-Steeple

church steeple stolen

Vandals absconded with the cross and part of the steeple at the Our Lady of Blacktip cathedral Wednesday night, leaving no clues as to how or why. (photo by Wendy Beaufort/BTT staff)

Unidentified thieves Wednesday night stole the steeple roof and cross from the Our Lady of Blacktip cathedral, leaving church officials and local residents baffled as to the motivation.

“I came to prep for mass Thursday morning, and the cross was just gone,” Father Audley Crossblesser said. “I ran all around the outside of the church to see if it had fallen, but there was no sign of it. To do something like that this time of year, that’s Satan’s work.

“This is shaping up to be the saddest Christmas in memory,” Crossblesser said. “First the iguanas maul the carolers, now somebody’s stolen our cross. And added to that, it’s supposed to rain this weekend. We’ve got a big blue tarp, blessed by the bishop, but it’ll be pure hell hauling that thing up there and anchoring it down.”

The Blacktip Island Ecumenical Council was united in denouncing the act.

“We condemn this attack on a religious building, on behalf of all faiths on the island. Or lack thereof,” BIEC chair former-Reverend Jerrod Ephesians said. “Someone went out their way to play Scrooge.

“Our guess is it’s the work of an organized anti-Christmas group,” Ephesians said. “There’s no way one person did that, and it took a good bit of planning. We’re tracking down all cranes and other heavy equipment on the island capable of pulling off something like this. And there’s been no ransom note. Yet.”

Many on the island were quick to point fingers.

“It had to be the atheists,” Chrissy Graysby said. “They’re definitely anti-holiday. It wouldn’t take much for some of them to go into Grinch-mode and steal everything to do with Christmas. I’m sleeping next to my tree with a baseball bat the next few nights in case they come for my Christmas stuff.”

Island atheists denied the charge.

“Why would we waste our time and energy on stealing a giant cross?” Angela Fisher said. “We had nothing to do with the theft. We just ignore Christmas, like we do every year. You ask me, they ought to be questioning those druids and pagans up on the north end. They have a real vendetta against Christianity.”

Others had more far-fetched theories.

“The way that steeple always leaned to one side, said for years it was a missile silo,” Antonio Fletcher said. “There was flashing lights and a big boom Wednesday night. Woke me up. My guess is they fired that missile at Cuba when everybody was asleep.”

Father Crossblesser belayed that theory.

“The flashing lights and booming Wednesday night were from a passing storm,” he said. “Our Lady of Blacktip has never had, nor ever will have, missiles stored in it. Not big ones, anyway. Though I’d love to take a missile to the backside of whatever heathen did this.

“Our short-term goal is raising funds to ransom our cross back. Or, if that falls through, for rebuilding the steeple and replacing the cross. We’ll build it back better. And weld that sucker on to make it impossible to steal.”

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Nativity Battle Over Baby Jesus Erupts Between Blacktip Island Churches

nativity battle

Baby Jesus, currently in the Nativity display at Blacktip Island’s Interdenominational Baptist Church, is at the heart of multiple fights between the small island’s religious factions. (photo courtesy of Jerrod Ephesians)

Ownership of a Baby Jesus figurine in Blacktip Island Nativity displays this week exploded into multiple physical altercations between members of the small Caribbean island’s two Christian churches, church spokespeople said.

“It started with the Protestants stealing Baby Jesus from our outdoor Nativity scene and putting Him in theirs,” Our Lady of Blacktip’s Father Audley Crossblesser said. “Somebody swiped Him one night, bold as brass, and the next morning He was in their Nativity. We took Him right back, and the two congregations’ve been snatching Him back and forth like clockwork ever since. Last night we thought Dermott Bottoms was guarding our Nativity, but it turns out he was just passed out in the bushes and we lost Jesus again.

“There were fisticuffs at both Nativity scenes this morning,” Crossblesser said. “Those Baptists’re sneaky—they dress up like our parishioners, and even tried to buy some of us off. We walloped every one of ‘em we could find, though, and excommunicated all the traitors in our midst. Now we just need to get Jesus back. We got volunteers with lionfish spears planning a raid, but I can’t say more than that.”

Protestant church members disputed the claim.

“That figurine’s part of our Nativity. Always has been,” Blacktip Interdenominational Baptist Church’s Reverend Pierre Grunt said. “When we were unwrapping the figures this year, little Jesus was missing. Then, lo and behold, it turns up in Our Lady’s Nativity. Damn right we took it back. And smote the thieves in the process.

“This morning we wrapped in a bare, 220-volt wire around Baby Jesus to zap any would-be manger robbers,” Grunt said. “Lee Helm tried to snatch it around sunrise, and the current knocked him six feet across the parking lot. Serves him right, the filthy little Jesuit. They’ll need rubber gloves and gum-soled boots to steal Jesus this time. If they get past our congregants with broom handles.”

The island’s Ecumenical Council urged peace from both sides.

“It shouldn’t need to be said, but none of this is in the spirit of the season,” the former Reverend Jerrod Ephesians, council president, said. “Big picture, it’s a time for hope and for rebirth archetypes—Mary and Jesus, Isis and Horus, that kind of thing—not religious gang fights. We’re urging both sides to share Jesus until a replacement can be found. An empty manger’s a bad visual. Theologically, the message there’s pretty bleak.”

Others in the community want to eliminate the Nativities altogether.

“Those little statues’re graven idols, dude. That’s a big no-no,” Alison Diesel said. “And coveting a graven idol of Jesus? That’s fourth- or fifth-level of Hell stuff. Plus, Baby Jesus electrocuting people’s over the top even for this island. Fun as hell to watch, but over the top.

“People need to skip the bogus dioramas, chill and enjoy the season,” Diesel said. “Do a double shot of eggnog and watch the holiday movie of your choice. Or not. Just don’t be an a-hole or electrocute anyone.”

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Blacktip Island Fishermen Capture Manta Claus On Video

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.”

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Blacktip Island Thespians Will Stage ‘The Poky Little Puppy’ Holiday Play

poky little puppy

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.”

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Blacktip Island Christmas Tree Lighting Goes Up In Flames

tree lighting catches fire

Blacktip Islanders are still in shock after a glitch in the lighting ceremony caused the community Christmas tree to go up in flames Wednesday evening. (photo courtesy of Fir0002)

Blacktip Island’s annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony went awry Wednesday night when misunderstood directions resulted in the community tree catching fire and burning down, event organizers said.

“The lights were strung, the kids’ ornaments were hung and the tree was perfect,” chamber of commerce President Kay Valve said. “We were all gathered around the tree, holding hands and singing “I Believe in Father Christmas,” then WHOOSH! We had a Christmas fire-nado.

“Dermott Bottoms had been working on the tree and the holiday bonfire and got confused,” Valve said. “When we said, ‘light the tree,’ he took that literally and held a lighter to it. The rum on his breath acted as an accelerant. For a second he looked like a holiday dragon.”

Onlookers described a chaotic scene.

“The crowd was ducking for cover, and people were rolling on the ground to put out the sparks on their clothes and hair,” Rusty Goby said. “Other palm trees went up, too. The flames got up high in the fronds and spread, well, like wildfire.

“We formed an ad-hoc volunteer fire brigade—basically anyone sober enough to handle a bucket or wield a hose,” Goby said. “Somehow we managed to save the nearby structures. That’s our Christmas miracle this year. The whole community’s still in shock, though.”

Island emergency workers say physical injuries were minimal.

“Little Shelly Bottoms lost an eyebrow,” island nurse Marissa Graysby said. “She’s scheduled for some heavy-duty therapy as soon as the holiday season’s over, but, then, we all are. The only other person injured was Dermott, but his skin’s so tough, he only has first-degree burns. I’m pretty sure he still doesn’t feel anything.”

Some worried about the long-term impact on the community.

“We tried the Whoville thing where we gathered around what’s left of the tree and sang holiday songs, but that fell flat, and people choked on the ashes,” Elena Havens said. “Now we’re moving ahead with an alternative community tree to regain a sense of the holidays.

“We’ll have a Christmas sea grape shrub instead,” Havens said. “It’ll be festive and fire resistant. We’re also taking donations for new strings of lights, and the school kids are in overdrive making replacement ornaments. That’s helping a lot of them work through seeing their other ornaments incinerate.”

Others in the community downplayed the incident.

“It’s Blacktip Island. It’s not the holidays unless something goes horribly wrong,” Clete Horn said. “This year, the catastrophe’s out of the way early. Now we can relax and enjoy the rest of the season in peace.”

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Blacktip Island Players Stage Dueling Christmas Plays

Dueling Xmas

Blacktip Island Community Players cast members try on various costumes Thursday at the BICP’s holiday play dress rehearsals. The BICP will perform Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and a Nativity play simultaneously to address a secular-vs.-religious divide among island residents. (photo courtesy of istolethetv).

Debate over the appropriate theme for Blacktip Island’s annual Christmas play has resulted in the Blacktip Island Community Players staging two different holiday plays simultaneously at the Caribbean island’s Heritage House, BICP representatives said Thursday.

“When we started planning things, there was a vocal contingent that wanted the play to focus on Jesus’ birth,” BICP director Doris Blenny said. “Others wanted a more lighthearted performance. We tried to incorporate both viewpoints, but that was a hot mess. The solution was to stage two plays.

“We’ll have a traditional Nativity play in a scale-model, turn-of-the-millennium Judean manger on the lawn, and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer inside,” Blenny said. “We’re staging them simultaneously so people can choose which to watch.”

Some community leaders opposed the two-play solution.

“Jesus is the reason for the season. If we don’t keep that in focus, who will?” said the Rev. Pierre Grunt. “Religion is the heart of this community. Or should be. The Santa-and-reindeer play is misguided, and we’re encouraging folks to boycott it. And they don’t, well, they’ll have to walk past our manger scene to get inside.”

Others supported the dueling plays.

“We kicked around a bunch of inclusive options, but this was the only practical one,” said the former Rev. Jerrod Ephesians, chair of the Blacktip Island Ecumenical Council. “The runner up was a Baby Jesus vs. Santa cage match, and we axed that pretty quick. Our bottom line is whatever gets people out and involved is, by definition, good for the community. And people really enjoyed last year’s ‘Grinch’ production.”

Actors say the two-play option has stretched the island’s thespian community thin.

“Staging two plays simultaneously showcases new talent, but it has us reaching deep into the pool of performers,” BICP member Elena Havens said. “Actors chose which play to participate in based on their beliefs, or lack thereof, though we did ask the tone-deaf actors to opt for the non-musical Nativity play.

“The downside is we had to reduce the number of parts in both performances,” Havens said. “There’ll only be one shepherd in the manger, and it’s impossible to find a Wise Man on this island, so we axed that role entirely.”

Casts of the two plays include:


  • Payne Hanover as Rudolph
  • Cori Anders as Clarice
  • Finn Kiick as Hermey the Elf
  • Elena Havens as Santa
  • Jessie Catahoula as Yukon Jack
  • James Conlee as The Abominable Snow Monster of the North


  • Kay Valve as Baby Jesus
  • Lee Helm as Mary
  • Marina DeLow as Joseph
  • Alison Diesel as The Shepherd
  • Dermott Bottoms as The Camel

Some cast members see the two-play solution as a growth opportunity.

“It really gives us a chance to stretch our abilities as actors,” Marina DeLow said. “So far the only real gaffe was during dress rehearsals the arrival of the shepherd outside was interrupted by Payne Hanover inside yelling, ‘She thinks I’m cuuuuuute!’ over and over.”

Many residents see the two plays as a holiday blessing.

“We get two plays instead of one,” Chrissy Graysby said. “We’re taking the kiddos to Rudolph Saturday, then the Nativity Sunday. Then we’ll celebrate Kwanza right after Christmas.”

The plays will be performed at 7 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through December 22.

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Singing Coral Head Highlights Blacktip Island Holiday Festivities

singing xmas coral

Gage Hoase and Alison Diesel wear Christmas tree worm caps Thursday night during the dress rehearsal of the Blacktip Island Acapella Society’s underwater Singing Coral Head. (photo courtesy of Nick Hobgood)

The Blacktip Island Acapella Society will eschew its traditional Singing Christmas Tree choral performance this Sunday night in favor of an underwater Singing Coral Head, with singers dressed as Christmas tree worms instead of ornaments, to celebrate the Caribbean island’s bond with its coral reefs.

“Instead of a choir in a giant tree, we’re doing a choir in a coral head,” director Donna Requin said. “We wanted to do something traditional, yet scuba themed, given the importance of scuba diving to the island.

“We’ll be giving Christmas favorites an aquatic twist,” Requin said. “The singers will wear big, bushy bonnets that mimic actual Christmas tree worms. It’s not some tacky holiday stunt, though. We’re being fully respectful of the holiday and the reef. We’re calling it A Merry Fishmas Choral Head.”

Songs include:

  • God Rest Ye Merry Jawfish
  • It Came Upon The Viz So Clear
  • Snapping Shrimp We Have Heard On High
  • Have Yourself A Merry Little Night Dive
  • Fishmastime Is Here

Singers will perform in full-face masks, with songs played on underwater speakers.

“The masks muffle our voices a bit, and the hydrophones distort them, but that adds to the effect,” tenor Gage Hoase said. “The idea is to get people to see Christmas, and the reef, in a new light.

“Singing on scuba actually solved one of our problems,” Hoase said. “We needed a soprano, but no one could hit those high notes. Then Alison Diesel switched from air to heliox and BAM! She sounds like Maria Callas. In that range, anyway.”

Some in the community were critical of the concept.

“It’s another cheesy holiday train wreck,” Blacktip Haven resort owner Elena Havens said. “Last year’s underwater Nativity scene made from old tires was an absolute embarrassment. We’re still getting trashed on Trip Advisor for it.

“‘Different’ doesn’t always mean ‘creative,’ especially when it trivializes the holiday,” Havens said. “People singing underwater wearing silly hats? That’s not Christmas. And what about people who don’t dive? Our church caroling is inclusive of everyone. Who celebrates Christmas.”

Requin brushed aside the criticism.

“The ‘caroling at the church’ audience has been dwindling for years,” she said. “Our choral head will be a breath of fresh air. Or freshly-compressed air.

“For those who don’t dive, or don’t care to dive, the singing can be heard quite clearly from a boat,” Requin said. “It’s quite ethereal. And non divers can also enjoy the performance via a live feed in the Sand Spit bar, where they’re welcome to sing along.”

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Vandal Stuffs Toys For Tots Bins With Pole Spears

Some of the undocumented lionfish spears seized from Blacktip Island youngsters this week. The source of the spears has not been determined.

Some of the undocumented lionfish spears seized from Blacktip Island youngsters this week. The source of the spears has not been determined.

Blacktip Islanders were shocked this week to find the Caribbean island’s Toys for Tots bins had been filled with pole spears normally used for lionfish culling.

“What sort of monster would give spears to children?” said island resident Ginger Bass, a mother of three. “And why? Someone’s really out to ruin Christmas.”

The situation was made worse by delinquents overturning the bins and stealing the spears.

“Children raid the bins every year,” said retired Sgt. Maj. Beaugregory Damsil, who oversees the island’s Toys for Tots program. “The bins aren’t guarded, and the little scamps know toys are inside. Usually, the worst that happens is some tyke nicks a Tickle Me Elmo or something of the sort.

“This year, though, they’ve stolen lethal weapons and passed them around willy-nilly. With so many children running about with so many spears, falling and putting one’s eye out is the least of our worries.”

Island authorities are seizing the pole spears as they find them.

“I corralled a bunch of kids today playing cullers-and-lionfish,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “Had to take three ‘lionfish’ to the clinic for patching up.

“We’re confiscating spears fast at we can, but things are nowhere near under control,” IPC Marquette said. “We’ve no idea who’s leaving the spears, where they’re getting them or how many are still out there.”

Fourteen spear-related injuries have been confirmed: 13 punctures, plus a skull fracture to a child blasted backwards after he speared an automobile tire. There are also unconfirmed reports of several punctured house cats.

“Thankfully, the tines aren’t barbed,” island physician Dr. Azul Tang said. “The wounds bleed a good bit, but they’re all fairly clean flesh wounds.”

The situation has left many locals shaken.

“The bigger issue’s how this destroys the island’s Christmas spirit,” Club Scuba Doo manager Polly Parrett said. “I mean, someone’s also running around stealing all our trees and ornaments. It’s like Christmas is being taken from us bit by bit.”

Island authorities would not comment on multiple reports of a man, wearing only a Santa coat and hat, lurking around toy collection centers earlier in the week, or that a small dog accompanying him may or may not have had a stick tied to its head.

“This situation’s volatile enough without crazy rumors,” IPC Marquette said. “All we know at this point is whoever’s responsible is a mean one, with a brain full of spiders and garlic in his soul.”

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