Wednesday's route Dance in the dawn with Stanley


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ST. CROIX - Residents across the island are embracing the cultural tradition of Christmas Serenade that began early this morning and will continue again just after midnight Wednesday morning.

The tradition of Stanley and the Ten Sleepless Knights serenading the community with Christmas quelbe music started in the 1970s, when the band carried their instruments and walked from house to house, spreading Christmas cheer with their scratch band music. The tradition stopped in 1992 after complaints about the noise from some residents but was revived just more than five years ago.

V.I. Public Television Chief Executive Officer Osbert Potter said the serenade is an important part of local culture because it keeps the traditions of quelbe music alive as it was done years ago. He said when the tradition was resurrected, the community expressed their excitement by coming out and being part of the event that begins at midnight and lasts past sunrise.

During the serenade events, which take place just two nights each year, the band is set atop a flat bed truck decorated for the season with garlands and lights. A wall of speakers behind the flat bed ensures that the sounds of the congas and flute, triangle, banjos, keyboards and drums are heard for miles around as the truck weaves its way across the island from one estate to the next.

There are stops at a number of residences where large spreads of foods are put out for the community.

Band leader Stanley Jacobs said the serenade has changed alot over the years, but they are really excited to still be able to bring the art form to the people.

"People really love it and they get excited as soon as December come around they start asking for dates," he said. "It makes us feel good, and we hope to be around playing for many more years."

Earlier today, the event took the band on the west side of the island, then into Frederiksted town, where a tramp was scheduled from the post office to Midre Cummings Park.

Wednesday morning, the serenade will leave the WTJX TV station office in Estate Richmond just after midnight and go through La Grande Princesse and other areas and back to Eliza's Retreat, where a street party will take place. From there, the band will travel back through town to Sunday Market Square, where they will lead a tramp up to WTJX.

"The people really look forward to this, and we are just very glad for the opportunity to bring the event with the help of our sponsors," Potter said. "You know, Christmas activities in St. Croix really only start when you hear the serenade with Stanley, so we are about to get it started."

Potter said with the rainy weather the last few weeks, there is some concern about rain for the event, but "rain don't stop the party."

"We will just cover down so the guys and equipment don't get wet, and keep on going," he said.

- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email fstokes@dailynews.vi.

Leaving WTJX station at midnight

La Grande Princesse

Estate St. John

Golden Rock

Bassin Triangle

Christiansted town

Eliza's Retreat

Sunday Market Square

WTJX station

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