Rain is a blessing, that’s how the old saying goes. Ever wonder how organizers of outdoor events feel about that?
The volunteers who put together Saturday night’s Light Up the Night (Alumbra de Noche) fundraiser at Winston Wells Park seemed to take it in stride. An afternoon cloudburst muddied the field just before the 4 p.m. start. But start it did, with words of welcome from the stage and a spirited tune from the All Island Children’s Choir.
That was the start of a night of fun and friendship, hope and memories. And walking — lots of walking. Teams taking turns around a track etched out of mud and paper bags.
The bags were luminaries, white paper sacks with sand and candles. They were lit to support cancer survivors in their struggles and to remember the dead, who fought but lost in the end.
At 9 p.m., they were lit. Relatives, friends and neighbors, all cancer survivors, wore plum-colored tees led the walk around the track. The stadium lights at Wells Park dimmed as the candles glowed.
Cancer survivor Caroline Ferary told her story of being diagnosed while in the V.I., away from friends and family in Boston. She spoke about the help she received from new friends on St. John.
Friends who stuck by her during diagnosis and the back and forth travel for treatment. Strangers who showed up at her door to hold prayer circles with her and a hairdresser who helped her pick out hairpieces, “to get back to myself again.”
Ferary recounted many kind words and actions that kept her going through surgeries. And, she said, “the invaluable help of the St. John Cancer Fund.”
It didn’t rain for the rest of the night. Flattened cardboard boxes made for more stepping than sliding. Round and round the walkers went…
Then came WAPA, or maybe better said, there it went. A scheduled power outage left everyone in the dark. Good thing they had candles.
An hour later Light Up the Night was lit up again. Organizers Mary Bartolucci thanked the Bloomberg recovery group and local friends for furnishing portable lights.
And although this year’s event did not go until dawn, as the other four fundraisers had, children relished staying up way past bedtime to romp around. An inflatable bounce house shook and shimmied and a tiny tribe formed at the foot of the dunk tank, in the corner near the firehouse.
At midnight, it was Bartolucci’s turn in the tank, sitting on a perch above the water while supporters lobbed fastballs at a target. Organizers held up the dunking until $300 was raised. In the end, she wore an expensive wet tee shirt.
By 1 a.m., and all the fun done, Light Up the Night raised $70,426. The Gallows Point Resort team raised the most money for this year’s event, raising over $10,000. In second place for the most funds raised was the Beach Bar team. Some of the veteran Beach Bar staff traveled to St. John just for this year’s walk.