Tag Archives: Christmas
A stampede at Blacktip Island’s Community Holiday Tree lighting ceremony Thursday night injured five residents. All were treated at the island medical clinic and released. (photo courtesy of KTNV)
Five people sustained minor injuries at the Blacktip Island Community Holiday Tree lighting ceremony Thursday evening after many attendees claimed the lighted palm tree resembled male sexual anatomy.
“We didn’t think it through, obviously,” event organizer Jay Valve said. “We used a palm tree this year instead of the usual sea grape tree, and on paper the lights looked lovely, with the trunk all bright, and oversized blue Christmas balls around the base. We should have put more lights on the fronds so you could tell it was a tree.
“Someone told us never to put holiday lights on a palm tree,” Valve said. “I guess we found out why the hard way.”
Witnesses described a chaotic scene following the lighting.
“We’d finished singing The Chipmunk Song, Jay flipped on the lights and all hell broke loose,” Gage Hoase said. “Most of us were laughing, but a bunch of people started screaming and running every which way.
“They were trampling each other, trying to get away, trying not to look,” Hoase said. “The people who fell down laughing got the worst of that. They’re the ones got hauled off to the clinic. We all needed a good, stiff drink afterward.”
The display shocked many attendees.
“The kids were excited about seeing the new tree, so we made sure we were in the front row,” resident Glenda Goby said. “Then the lights came on, and Christmas turned into a nightmare.
“I covered the little ones’ eyes quick as I could, but I have three kiddos and only two hands,” Goby said. “My youngest is still screaming. I’m still answering awkward questions. We expected a nice, family-friendly tree. That shouldn’t have been so hard.”
Some defended the decorations.
“It’s Christmas. There’s supposed to be surprises,” Wendy Beaufort said. “I mean it was awkward, happening in front of God and everyone, but it’s still quite festive. I wouldn’t accept any presents from under that thing, but, in a way, it sums up Blacktip Island life.”
The display has caused others to rethink all holiday decorations.
“Now people are imagining sex organs in every decoration on the island,” the Rev. Pierre Grunt said. “Icicle lights, angels, you name it, they’ve been dragged into the gutter. Jay and them really should have done some lighting test runs instead of going off all half-cocked.
“We even took the wreaths on the church doors, for decency’s sake,” Grunt said. “There were way too many people pointing and snickering. And taking rude selfies.”
A cell phone image of the moment Blacktip Island’s Nativity play violence spilled into the audience at the Our Lady of Blacktip church Thursday night. (Photo courtesy of Barb Schaft)
Blacktip Island’s reef-themed Nativity play at Our Lady of Blacktip cathedral was cut short Thursday evening when an altercation broke out among the play’s participants.
“Lee Helm’s been carrying a flame for Alison Diesel for years,” play director Doris Blenny said. “He was none too happy when we picked her to play Mary, and him to play Second Shepherd.
“Apparently, Lee downed all the Communion wine backstage pre-play,” Blenny said. “Then when Gage Hoase, as Joseph, put his arm around Alison, well, Lee let his emotions get the better of him.”
An onstage scuffle spilled into the audience, sending playgoers scurrying for exits.
“The Angelfish had just started singing ‘Paradise City,’ when a shepherd in a wetsuit jumped across the crib and grabbed Joseph’s throat,” spectator Wendy Beaufort said. “The wise men tried to help Joseph, but the other shepherds had their boy’s back. It’s crazy the damage a bamboo shepherd’s crook can do.
“The fight tumbled off the stage and into us,” Beaufort said. “I t was mayhem. Joseph bashed the shepherd with Baby Jesus right in front of me. People were stomping on each other to get to the doors. I crawled under pews and hopped out a window.”
Authorities say seven participants and 13 audience members were taken to the island medical clinic.
“Most of the injuries occurred in the stampede to exit the building,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “The most serious injuries were sustained by players onstage.
“We have six actors, including Mr. Helm, in custody on multiple charges,” Marquette said. “The most serious charge is assault with a sea fan palm tree. And battery with a mock infant.”
Event organizers say the incident is Blacktip Island’s worst theater-related violence since 2011’s ‘Cats’ debacle.
“We’re still trying to finding Baby Jesus, two of the Wise Men’s dogs and any of the shepherd’s land crabs,” Blenny said. “Antonio Fletcher just announced he’s having a holiday crab boil at his place, but I don’t think that’s related.”
Blacktip Island’s religious community condemned the violence.
“It’s heartbreaking to see this kind of behavior in a church, especially during the holidays,” said the former-Reverend Jerrod Ephesians, head of the Blacktip Island Ecumenical Council. “This was a Nativity play. No one was supposed to take it seriously.
“I mean, it’s Blacktip Island,” Ephesians said. “There’s never been a virgin on this little rock. And good luck finding one wise man here, much less three.”
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.”
The Blacktip Island Ecumenical Council will kick off the holiday season Saturday evening with a Nutcracker Dance-Along at Diddley’s Landing public dock. The event will feature the music of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker ballet.
“Last year’s Messiah sing-along was such a success, so we thought, ‘why not take it up a notch?’” said the former-Reverend Jerrod Ephesians, the event’s organizer. “It’s something the whole community can participate in, and it’s more inclusive than a Judeo-Christian themed group sing.
“Two left feet, three left feet, it doesn’t matter,” Ephesians said. “Just come out and celebrate the seasonal holiday of your choice with the feet of your choice.”
“We debated dividing the main roles amongst the most able dancers, but that runs contrary to the holiday spirit,” choreographer Doris Blenny said. “It’ll be an organic free-for-all, really. You want to be the Clara? The world is your stage. Fifteen yobbos want to chassé as the Nutcracker Prince, well, more power to them.
“We’re not requiring Nutcracker-specific garb,” Blenny said. “The Wiccans will be dancing as trees. The Raëlians will be dressed as space alien mice.”
Locals are cautiously optimistic this year’s religiously-inclusive event will be free of the altercations that marred last year’s sing-along.
“Folks were bound and determined to sing outside their vocal range,” soprano Wendy Beaufort said. “Clete Horn, reeking of rum, insisted Baby Jesus told him to sing with the altos. It ruined the ‘Hallelujah’ chorus. James Conlee yanked him over with the basses, punches flew and we ended up hauling Clete, James and four tenors to the clinic.”
“There’s no telling what’ll happen tomorrow night,” Jerrod Ephesians said. “Or even who’ll turn up. The pas de deux may be more of a pas de quarante-deux. But that’s part of the holiday magic.”
Island traditionalists, however, are boycotting the event.
“Won’t be a silent night and won’t be a holy night,” resident Rocky Shore said. “Unless you mean wholly chaotic. This’s ‘Christmas season,’ not ‘holiday season.’ Christmas is about your yearly church visit, presents and arguing with family, not making a jackass of yourself in public.”
Others are intrigued by the dance-along.
“I can’t wait to see Dermott Bottoms nail that grand jeté in tights and a kilt,” Molly Miller said. “He’s got the legs for it, but that’s a lot of gut to get airborn.”
Dancers are strongly encouraged to provide their own leotards, dive skins or other dance-appropriate attire.
“We have loaners,” Doris Blenny said, “but, well, most are from resort lost-and-found bins, if you take my meaning. We only have so much disinfectant.”
Island police are investigating a series of assaults on scuba enthusiasts diving off Blacktip Island during the past two days.
“This is an ongoing investigation,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “All I can say is in the past day and a half, 12 divers have reported being accosted while diving on area reefs.”
“It’s shocking,” Eagle Ray Cove owner Rich Skerritt said. “We pride ourselves on being one of the most crime-free places in the Caribbean, then something like this happens.”
One victim, who asked to remain anonymous, said the attack happened without warning.
“One minute I’m looking at a green moray, the next someone snatches my mask off my face and jams a brand new mask on in its place,” she said. “He was gone before I could react.”
Another victim described a more harrowing experience.
“It was horrible. This old dude just popped out of a barrel sponge as I swam past,” the man said. “I saw him out of the corner of my eye, split-second, and Wham! He pinned me against the coral, jammed a new dive light down my wet suit, then disappeared up one of those coral chimneys. It’s great light, LED and all, but . . . it’s not right.”
Island police are still unsure of the assailant’s motive.
“He’s not physically harming divers, or taking anything of value,” IPC Marquette said. “On the contrary, all the victims report ending up with better scuba gear than they started out with.
“A do-gooder gone rogue, maybe. Or a thief with a guilty conscience, giving away his ill-gotten booty.”
“We won’t stand for it,” Skerritt said. “We’ve issued spears to all our divemasters, and they’ll do whatever’s necessary to protect our guests.”
Island authorities are asking for the public’s help in apprehending the man. The assailant is described as a heavy-set, elderly, with a white beard and wearing a red wetsuit. Several witnesses noted the man using a DPV or underwater sled of some sort to make his escapes. There are also unconfirmed reports of him being accompanied by eight or nine large Nassau grouper, one of which had inflamed, red nostrils.
Blacktip Island’s religious factions have put aside their quarrels in time to resurrect the community’s traditional holiday light display.
“We’ve been working on a compromise for months, but the devil’s been in the details,” said the former-Reverend Jerrod Ephesians, head of the island’s Interfaith Committee.
The display historically has been a source of friction among the Caribbean island’s diverse religious groups. Formerly referred to as Christmas lights, the name was changed in hopes of avoiding a repeat of 2012’s holiday riots, Ephesians said.
“Last year the Raëlians set the tree on fire the second night it was up,” Ephesians said. “When the Catholic Defense League retaliated, things went to hell right quick.
“This year, in the spirit of ecumenical good will, we’ve done away with the physical tree completely. But we all agreed the lights by themselves were quite lovely, so we kept those.”
In the absence of a tree, the light strands have been suspended from a small remote-controlled helicopter, donated by island scuba operators, at Diddley’s Landing public pier.
“We’ll light one strand at a time, an additional strand each night, during Hanukkah, after which people will be free to view them as non-denominational Christmas lights,” Ephesians said.
The display will also serve as site of the Winter Solstice celebration December 21 and Kwanzaa December 26 through January 1.
“Atheists are welcome to view the lights however they see fit, or to ignore them altogether,” Ephesians said.