More people than ever came out to enjoy the sweet sounds of the third annual St. John Christmas Music Festival, on Saturday, December 1, and Sunday, December 2, at the Winston Wells ball field.
Hundreds of St. John residents and tourists were entertained by Grammy-nominated jazz singer Julie Michels and the “velvet voice” of V.I. resident Dr. Ron Nimmo at the free Saturday evening show, “Christmas Jazz Under the Stars.”
Both artists were backed up by local favorites The Jazz Islanders, featuring Sally Smith on piano, Joe Ramsey on sax, Dale Harrigan on trumpet, Vince Wallace Jr. on bass, Ryan Diehl on drums and Steve Simon on clarinet.
The holiday season was kicked off in style on Sunday evening, December 2, with a torch-lit parade through Cruz Bay led by Santa Claus himself. Event organizer Steve Simon anticipated more than 700 children would receive gifts at the parade.
“Last year, we gave away close to 600 presents to children of all ages who came to the ball field on Sunday after the parade,” said Simon before the event. “This year, we’re expecting in excess of 700 children. We’re prepared for it as well as you can imagine.”
Concert-goers then enjoyed the sounds of show openers, International Blues Challenge 2007 winners the Homemade Jamz Blues Band from Tupelo, Mississippi, at the Sunday evening, December 2, “An Evening of Christmas Gospel and Blues Under the Stars.”
Later in the evening, gospel legends Diunna Greenleaf and I.J. Gosey with Zac Harmon and the gospel band Blue Mercy took the stage, much to the crowd’s delight.
Simon prepared for a record-breaking crowd at this year’s concert.
“Assuming that the last two years are a good barometer of what to expect, we’re expecting record crowds,” Simon said before the event. “Last year, we had twice as many people as the year before, both along the parade route and the people who came to both evenings of concerts.”