Tag Archives: Easter

Blacktip Island To Celebrate Easter With A Sea-Turtle Egg Hunt


Brightly-painted pingpong balls will double as sea turtle eggs Sunday in the Department of Environment’s inaugural Easter turtle-egg hunt. (photo courtesy of Dean Hochman)

Blacktip Island children of all ages will celebrate Easter Sunday with a Department of Environment-sponsored sea turtle egg hunt along the small Caribbean island’s beaches to raise awareness of endangered sea turtle nests, DoE officials said.

“They’re not real turtle nests, of course,” marine parks spokesperson Val Schrader said. “It’s the wrong season. But when nesting season comes around this summer, we aim to have a small army of beach walkers who know what to look for so we can track all of the green and loggerhead turtle hatchings.

“We dug fake nests all over the island and filled them with dyed pingpong balls to simulate turtle eggs,” Schrader said. “Then we used tractor tires to simulate turtle tracks up the beach. The kids dig into them like little terriers—sand flies everywhere. The smaller ones go in head-first to their waists.”

Some on the island criticized the activity.

“You’re teaching children to dig up turtle nests. That can’t end well,” Frank Maples said. “Most adults can make the distinction between a spring egg hunt and summer nest spotting, but some of the younger kiddos can’t. This could lead to hordes of preschoolers destroying endangered nests in a few months’ time.”

Organizers downplayed such scenarios.

“Kids are smarter than that. And we explain the difference,” DoE volunteer Melissa Snapper said. “Plus, there’s only about three kids on the island, so, worst case, they can’t do too much damage. It’s the half-wit adults we’re worried about. But that’ll be more than offset by our raising awareness of the nests. A bigger danger is folks getting snake bit.”

Local retailers are supporting the hunt.

“We’ll have food and drink booths set up near every faux-nest site,” Sandy Bottoms Beach Resort manager Kay Valve said. “We’ll serve turtle-related fare like turtle steaks and turtle medallions. There’ll be no mock-turtle soup, but we will have real-turtle soup and mock anyone who eats it. Oh, and chocolate turtles, too, if the heat doesn’t melt them.

“There’ll also be a nest-digging contest, a crawl-up-the-beach-on-your-belly contest and pin the head on the turtle game,” Valve said. “We’ll also have pingpong tables and paddles for anyone who fancies a game with the faux eggs they find.”

Local bands The Social Morays and Turtlehead will perform in the evening.

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Christian-Pagan Brawl Forces Blacktip Island Easter Parade Underwater

UW Easter parade

Kay Valve of the Blacktip Island Ecumenical Council marks the route of Sunday’s underwater Easter parade on Jawfish Reef Thursday. Parade organizers hope staging the event underwater will reduce sectarian violence that has marred recent Easter parades. (photo courtesy of Rosie Blenny/BIEC)

The Blacktip Island Ecumenical Council announced Wednesday the Caribbean island’s annual Easter parade will take place underwater after sectarian violence marred last year’s parade along the island’s resort strip.

“Staging the parade underwater’s a Hail Mary, but it was that or cancel it completely,” BIEC chair, the former-Reverend Jerrod Ephesians said. “There’ll be fewer people underwater, and it makes crowd control a whole lot easier.

“Last year’s fights between the Christians in the parade and the yahoos hijacking it for Ostara’s spring fertility festival blind sided us,” Ephesians said. “It started with insults, then thrown beer bottles, then an all-out melee the length of the parade route. We had to do something to preserve the event.”

Island authorities confirmed last year’s parade brawl set new records for damage.

“Vehicles were burned. Businesses were vandalized. The clinic was chock-a-block with injured participants from both sides,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “If Jerrod and his council hadn’t come up with this alternative, the parade was history.”

Organizers noted security measures will be in place for this year’s parade.

“We’ve tailored the event to maintain a high degree of safety while being as inclusive as possible,” BIEC sergeant-at-arms Kay Valve said. “Safety divers will keep the various factions separated and peaceful. And prevent drownings.

“Participants can be Christian, pagan or anything else,” Valve said. “They don’t even have to be religious. We do ask that everyone be sober, though. And anyone starting trouble will be immediately power-inflatored to the surface, regardless of religious affiliation.

Parade participants praised the changes.

“It will be lovely seeing everyone kitted out in their best wetsuits, BCs and masks,” Blacktip Island Junior League president Marcia Seagroves said. “And we’ve all gussied our neoprene hoods into the most wonderful bonnets. It’s different, certainly, but promises to have its own sort of dignity. Nevertheless, all League members will wear dive knives, just in case.”

Not all locals were pleased with the parade’s new format.

“It’s a mockery, celebrating Holy Week with an underwater game of follow-the-leader,” Father Poppy Bottoms of Our Lady Of Blacktip Cathedral said. “So’s Jerrod organizing it – he’s the one who set the spark to the tinder last year by running through the parade wearing nothing but a white bathrobe and yelling he was the archangel Gabriel.”

BIEC officials remained upbeat.

“We’ve encouraged underwater spectators to bring video cameras so we can stream the parade live to the BIEC website for non-divers,” Valve said. “There will also be prizes for best bonnet and most inappropriate wetsuit. And afterwards we’ll have a sea turtle egg hunt for the kiddos.”

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Island Landfill Preps For Holiday Gift Dump

Blacktip Island Ecumenical Council volunteers ready the pit for Saturday’s gift return.

Blacktip Island Ecumenical Council volunteers ready the pit for Saturday’s gift return.

Blacktip Island residents have their unwanted Christmas gifts bundled for Saturday evening’s Easter Eve gift dump at the island’s landfill. The event was introduced more than two decades ago to foster goodwill among the Caribbean Island’s small population.

“Everybody gets crap they don’t want during the holidays,” said the former-Reverend Jerrod Ephesians, head of the island’s Ecumenical Council. “In the real word, you can return the stuff, sell it or just throw it away. This island’s nothing like the real world, though.

“Returns aren’t an option. If you sell or re-gift, word gets around. Throw it away? People pick through that dump all the time. That’s when things go to hell.”

“Back in ’91 or so it got so bad half the island nearly killed the other half,” longtime resident Reg Gurnard said. “I didn’t go outside until May Day.”

“Started with Dermott Bottoms giving Billy Ray a pink mermaid table lamp cut from a scuba cylinder,” Eagle Ray Divers operations manager Ger Latner said. “God-awful thing. Billy’s wife, Lucille, chucked it. Clete Horn spied it in the dump, had seen Dermott with a lamp just like it before Christmas, and tried to sell it to Dermott, thinking Dermott’d want a matching set.

“Dermott beat the tar out of Clete for thieving, then beat the tar out of Billy for being an SOB. Then Lucille beat king hell out of Dermott. Friends and family got involved, and by the end of the week the clinic was out of bandages and sutures. Had to send the Home Guard over from Tiperon to stop the feuding.”

As a solution, the island’s Ecumenical Council instituted an Easter Eve no-questions-asked, blind gift-dump.

“We dig a big pit at the edge of the landfill,” the former-Reverend Ephesians said. “As soon as it’s full dark, people are free to throw their unwanted holiday gifts in. Then, just before first light, we have blindfolded volunteers backfill the pit with bulldozers so no one ever knows what all was buried.

“It’s done in the spirit of forgiveness and atonement,” Ephesians said. “It really binds the community together. Plus, it gives folks a four-month cooling-off period to make sure they really don’t like a gift.”

“The gift dump makes Easter morning a joyous time for everyone, whether they’re religious or not,” Reg Gurnard said. “Soon as those diesel engines crank to life and dirt starts tumbling, all the guilt and remorse of the past three months just evaporates. You feel reborn.”

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