News

Dec 19, 1999

The Select Anniversary

No sooner had St Barth finished mopping up from the heavy rains of hurricane Jose than it was flooded with people, an unusual combination of Swedes, sailors and Jimmy Buffett fans who had come from far and near for the weekend of November 6 & 7 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Le Select, the island's oldest (and still best) bar. Located in the heart of Gustavia, just steps from the port, Le Select has long been a haven for old salts and landlubbers alike.
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It's owner, the 77-year-old Marius Stakelborough, a bearded patriarch of the island, often holds court in the garden restaurant which is called "Cheeseburger In Paradise," thanks to a special deal with Marius's good buddy Jimmy Buffett who lent the name of one of his most famous songs to Le Select in exchange for free beer and burgers for life. A frequent visitor to St Barth since 1976, Jimmy has been known to give free impromptu concerts at Le Select over the years.
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As soon as he heard that Marius was planning the silver jubilee celebration of the bar, Jimmy promised to bring his band and play a free concert on the dock in Gustavia. Once word of the concert got out (a website listing or two was all it took), any Parrothead (as Buffett's fans are called) that could find St Barth on the map starting making plans to come to the island for the weekend. Most of the locals either never heard of Jimmy Buffett or couldn't understand the excitement since the "Jeemmy" they know plays for free all the time (they don't know that he sells out Madison Square Garden in five minutes flat). But pretty soon every hotel room, guest bed and rental car on the island was reserved, and loads of people sailed in from neighboring islands with plans to sleep on their boats, on the beach, or simply party on the dock all night. It was quite a scene, with more Jimmy Buffett t-shirts, parrot hats, cheeseburger heads, and beer coolers than had ever hit the island before. Anyone who didn't bring a Buffett t-shirt with them could buy Le Select t-shirts for the occasion, or head over to the Black Swan boutique which had turned into a Jimmy Buffett shrine with his music playing non-stop all weekend and special t-shirts, beach towels, and a wide variety of Parrothead paraphernalia on tap. There must have been 2000 people crowded onto the dock and nearby boats for the two-and-a-half hour concert complete with fireworks (one of which strayed off course and set fire to the island's weather station). Some of the Parrotheads camped out from noon on, drinking beer in the hot sun, to get a front row spot at show time. Marius and his extended family got a big round of applause when they stood on stage and Jimmy and Marius congratulated each other on the success of the event. "For 25 years I dreamt about playing on this quay," said Buffett, who added a little calypso and reggae for the occasion.
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The weekend included a roster of other events as well, from Swedish candle lighting ceremonies to a photographic history of the island and Le Select, sailing races, and performances by local bands from St Barth and St Martin. Once the party was over and Jimmy's Cesna seaplane (with his signature parrot painted on the tail) was gone and the beer bottles swept up from the dock, would anyone really believe that Jimmy Buffett and a six-piece band had been in St Barth for a free concert. Only those of us who where there will ever really know for sure.

Ellen Lampert-Greaux


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