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Sep 7, 2004

Saint-Barth Summer Festivities

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One might think that after the close of the annual theatre festival in mid-May that the island would slow down to a lazy, summer pace. On the contrary, the summer was a busy time with a dance performance directed by Kim in late June, and the various neighborhood celebrations that take place all summer.

The most beautiful dance concert of the year (other than the two evenings dedicated to dance during the music festival in January) was presented by Kim (her real name is Sylvie Millerot), a certified teacher of modern and jazz dance, who has lived in Saint-Barth for the past 10 years. In addition to her concerts, Kim has also presented young dancers in regional and national dance competitions and has won several medals and special jury citations. She has also trained young dancers who have gone on to study dance as a profession in leading schools in Canada. For this most recent concert which took place on a stage built for the event at the sports stadium in Saint-Jean, she created not only the choreography, but also selected the costumes, the music, and took care of logistics. In spite of rain showers in the early evening, the stadium was full, and underscores the need for a performing arts venue of a serious nature, as has been called for by many of the non-profit cultural organizations on the island for many years. At the end of the performance, the non-profit group, St. B’Art presented Kim (who was very moved by the gesture) with their “Lizard” trophy, in recognition of the outstanding quality of her work.

Once July rolls around the different neighborhoods on the island organize summer festivals or Saint’s Days which allow the residents to get together with friends from other neighborhoods as well. The festivities include everything from a mass and benediction by the priest, and games for children and adults such as domino tournaments, card games, and beach volleyball to regattas for traditional sailboats, Lasers and Optimists. The two days of festivities often culminate with a dance performance by the local youngsters, an awards ceremony, fireworks, and a dance with local musicians. Until this year, the Bastille Day celebration on July 14 was usually the kick-off fate for the summer schedule, followed about 10 days later by the fete in Flamands. August gets under way with the Windward festival on the beach in Lorient followed by the Pitea Day celebration organized by the Friends of Sweden in Saint-Barth association on the beach in Public. Then comes a day of festivities in Gustavia, and then on August 24 the island celebrates the festival of Saint-Barthelemy, followed by the festival of Saint Louis, the patron saint of Corossol. The difference this year was the addition of a new event organized by the neighborhoods of Anse des Cayes and Anse des Lezards that got things rolling the first weekend in July. This event had fallen by the wayside but has been resurrected by the dynamism of the association “Lezards des Cayes” which includes residents of both neighborhoods, as well as subsidy from the municipality to make this fete a success.

On August 24, St Barthelemy Day, the mayor traditionally gives a short speech to the assembled guests at City Hall, with a resume of the things accomplished by the municipal council in the past year. This year, numerous special guests responded to the invitation issued by Bruno Magras. Jacques Gillot and Victorin Lurel, respectively president of the Conseil General and of the Conseil Regional in Guadeloupe, Lucette Michaud-Chevry and Dominique Larifla, both senators from Guadeloupe, the governor of the island of Saba, and Maurice Michaud, sub-prefect of the Northern Islands, as well as official representatives from Sint-Marteen made up the cadre of VIPs. As they spoke, they each reconfirmed their support of the municipality in its request to the French government for a new political status for the island, and they once again toasted the success of this project. As for Lucette Michaud-Chevry, she closed her speech, perhaps for the last time, by wishing the island a good Saint’s Day celebration. After the many speeches, the director of civil aviation presented Jose Dormoy with the Gold Medal for Aeronautics. Born in 1925, this pilot has flown more than 44,000 hours, and with Remy de Haenen, was a pioneer in opening airstrips on various Caribbean islands. The Commandant of the French military ship, La Fougueuse, then presented the medal of the chevalier of the national order of maritime merit to municipal policeman Clemenceau Magras for his outstanding service in security and life saving efforts at sea. The morning concluded with the presentation of honorary diplomas to all the students of the island who were awarded their BAC, or university entrance exams, before the traditional champagne toast served on the terrace of City Hall. As happens every year, the local population came out in force to celebrate the patron saint of the island with the mayor and other elected officials.

Cécile Lucot


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