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Sunday, December 13, 2009

12.14- Spirit of X-mas

Exhausted candelaria await pickup in the rain at the Factory St.-Hodges St.-Wall St. turnabout

The Spirit of X-mas festivities are over... lighted boat flotilla Friday night, open houses offering X-mas food and drink to all comers on Saturday, the Saturday evening parade down the town's main streets and, topping it all off, the beautiful candle-lined streets after sunset (see a picture of the candles last year here.)

It takes a lot of folks a lot of time, effort and even gold to make these kind of community events all come together.

The advance preparations for Spirit of X-mas are the most fun part of the celebration... The work done by all the folks who come out to work with their neighbors, families, friends, and strangers on the grunt work of putting together a party ... At every step, folks from Oriental and our surrounding neighbors all pitch in together, chatting and laughing and sometimes even moaning and groaning together.

Of all the elements that make up the Spirit of X-mas celebration, my favorite part is the lining of the streets with 4,000 candles in 4,000 paper bags. The end result is stunning, and constructing these "candelaria" requires a lot of person-hours from volunteers...

On Tuesday folks show up at the Toucan Bar & Grill do two tasks: to light all 4,000 candles for a few seconds, then blow them... this makes them easier to light at the final stage; 2) fold the tops of all the bags down with two one-inch folds, then re-stack the bags... this makes the bags stand up straight and resist the wind. On Thursday volunteers head to Town Hall to put dirt in 4,000 little bio-degradable baggies, stick the 4,000 candles into the 4,000 baggies of dirt, place the baggies into the paper bags, and prepare the finalized candelaria for distribution. On Saturday morning, volunteers place the 4,000 candelaria along the streets, and Saturday afternoon they light each of the 4,000 candles. On Monday the bags in todays picture, and many more clusters just like it, will be collected and disposed of.


One thing I like about the candelaria project is that so many of us work together for so long and have a such good time together during the process... the same is of course true for those who work together putting on the parade and other events that so many visitors come to Oriental see.

But what I really like about the candelaria project is that the final after-sunset impact of the project is that those that get to enjoy the full beauty of the candles are, well, "ourselves"... "our community" ... "us."

And "us" includes: those who live here whether they got here last week or were born in Dr. Purdy's office; those of our loved ones and friends visiting from out-of-town; those who run our local businesses, and those who work in them; and those who started the weekend as visitors but have been inspired to stay in town for the full weekend or longer...

... and it is all these type of folks who pitch in to make it happen in the first place.

... And it is the most-committed of these who take on the responsibilities and not-insignificant personal sacrifices to round us all up to do this kind of "barn-raising" several times a year here in Oriental.

The core body of the real heavy-lifter volunteers behind these events work all year, many of them year-after-year, raising funds from donors, scheduling and accomplishing all of the preparations, and recruiting from Oriental's seemingly unending pool of "part-time" volunteers.


In today's picture of soggy paper bags piled in the middle of the street, I see all the work, fun and most importantly the family friends and neighbors who do it all.

And thinking of all this, I believe that when I wrote my last post concerning the apparent cancellation of one of the Dragon Runs on New Years Eve, I was in one of those however-many "stages of loss" where one feels anger at the loss, and maybe lashes out a bit...

In short I must apologize for the tone of the post. I am indeed upset at the news. I do indeed feel a sense of personal loss, one might say even selfish loss, because I have so much enjoyed the annual Dragon Runs, particularly the one closer to midnight.

I am not sure I quite understand why the second running was cancelled, but I generally know better than to rely on brief newspaper stories, whatever their source, to provide a complete picture of the problems involved in putting on such an event.

But I am sure that the organizers of the Dragon Run deserve my thanks, rather than my sarcastic criticism.

To them I apologize for the harshness of my rather emotional response. And I thank them for all their hard work.

They are, after all, "us."

-30-

1 comment:

Kris said...

It’s that time of year again! I’m doing the rounds and apologising for my complete failure to more regularly offer comment on everybody’s incredible efforts for the year. I know how hard it can be to keep up with the daily grind of everyday posting, and want to thank you for your efforts.

I especially want to wish festive greetings for all from down here at [nearly] the end of the world, the bottom of Tasmania.

So, if you could delete whatever is not applicable, I’d like to wish you a very pleasant/merry/happy/wonderful/safe Amaterasu; Ashurall; Beiwe; Choimus; Christmas; Dazh Boh; Dongzhi; Goru; Hanukkah; Hogmanay; Junkanoo; Karachun; Koleda; Lenæa; Meán Geimhridh; Modranicht; New Years; Ras as-Sana; Rozhanitsa Feast; Şeva Zistanê; shōgatsu; Summer Solstice [if you're in the Southern Hemisphere]; Sviatki; Vánoce; Winter solstice [if you're in the Northern Hemisphere]; Yalda; Yule-tide; Ziemassvētki; and Коляда!

With a hearty three cheers from Kris, Jen, Henry and Ezra!