Rum bottles at all Blacktip Island bars will have photos of missing persons placed on them under a new volunteer effort to reduce the number of people missing on the small Caribbean island. (photo courtesy of Stefan Giesbert)
Inspired by missing persons milk cartons, a Blacktip Island citizens group began placing missing residents’ faces on rum bottles at island bars Monday.
“We tried milk cartons, but no one on Blacktip gives a damn about milk,” Keen to Eliminate Lost People founder Harry Wrasse said. “But rum bottles? Blacktippers spend most of their free time staring at them.
“We don’t get a ton of missing people, but when we do, it’s a big deal,” Wrasse said. “Just last week Antonio Fletcher went missing for three days. The bottles got the word out, and we found him in a palm tree on top of the bluff. Said he flew up there. Jerrod had to fly up and get him down.”
The effort is funded by a local crowdsourcing effort.
“‘Groupsourcing’s’ more accurate, as few people as there are on the island,” Wrasse said. “And we rely on a stable of volunteers. We need as many as possible to make sure we have at least one sober at any given time.”
Bar rum bottles have been fitted with clear plastic sleeves that allow bartenders to change photos as needed.
“When someone goes missing, we send photos to all the bars and resorts,” KELP volunteer Rosie Blenny said. “As soon as we find the person, we send word out and everyone takes that photo off their bottles.”
The project has draw opposition from locals concerned about misuse and privacy issues.
“Less than a week and it’s already a train wreck,” resident Reg Gurnard said. “First, Kitty Katz posted a photo of her husband Mickey. That didn’t end well.
“Then Lee Helm posted a picture of his girlfriend when he thought she was off with someone else,” Gurnard said. “Problem is, she was. A bunch of folks tracked us down and all hell broke loose. Someone wants to be lost, that’s no one’s business but their own. All this does is get a bunch of drunks out snooping on people.”
Organizers are not daunted by the criticism.
“There’s been a few hiccups, sure. But we’ve done a lot of good, too,” Blenny said. “We found a missing tourist just yesterday. He’d taken a resort bike for a ride around the island, only he kept taking the crossover road and kept circling the south end. He’d still be out there if it wasn’t for KELP.
“Dermott gets lost all the time, too,” Blenny added. “Most of the bottles have his photo on them and a note telling him to go home. We’re saving lives here.”