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PARTY CENTRAL - THE BEST OF THE CHRISTMAS EMPLOYEE
by Linnea Brown
by Thomas Tomczyk
holidays are a time for celebrating and company parties are no exception.
For years, local companies have used their annual holiday celebration
as a tool to flaunt the year's successes, spoil their employees
and build corporate loyalty. But does it really make a difference?
Party on and decide.
Manager Amalia Vidal kicked the bash off by wishing all the employees
happy holidays and congratulating them on a great year's work. "She
thought of everything," said Fantasy Island Events Coordinator
Dawn Hyde. "They made us turkey, pork leg, lobster, shrimp,
chicken, rice, beans, salad and pineapple upside-down cake."
When the staff finished feasting, Italian Party Host Chebi Bolognese
organized two hilarious balloon races. "Since we didn't have
much time, I just did a really easy relay race with balloons,"
Bolognese said. "But everyone participated and had a lot of
fun trying to win."
prizes for the games consisted of hats, T-shirts and flight tickets
to La Ceiba and San Pedro Sula. "This is only my second year
at the Christmas party, but the prizes are really fun," said
cashier Elsa Collins.
After the games, Hyde presented three mock-serious awards and conducted
a playfully dramatic T-shirt raffle. Shouting gaily, Hyde provided
all the staff members with an instant boost of contagious energy.
Hyde explained why the owners did not give out the traditional $500
employee of the year award, which is normally announced at the party.
Hyde said: "It usually goes to whoever has won employee of
the month more than once, but since no one was picked twice this
year, they couldn't decide which month's winner deserved employee
of the year. Instead, the prize will double and $1,000 will be given
to the winner next December."
At the end of the afternoon bash, Hyde invited all off-duty employees
to hop on a bus to the French Harbour carnival to support the Fantasy
Although the invitations for Suyapa and John Edward's famous Christmas
party at Parrot Tree Plantation usually never appear in mailboxes
until a few days before the big bash, Bay Islanders never fail to
show up-in their trendiest threads-for the annual extravagant celebration.
This year proved to be no exception as employees of Parrot Tree,
Mayan Princess and Century 21 danced and feasted the night away
at the Edwards' big bash on Saturday, December 13. An extensive
buffet table stretched out across the porch, a bartender busily
poured drinks at an open bar and dozens of guests danced to rousing
party music inside the ballroom.
Mrs. Edwards, famous for her spur-of-the-moment bashes, said she
prefers to plan and prepare spontaneously. "Everyone knew that
I would throw a Christmas party, but no one knew when or where,"
Edwards said at the party. "I finally decided on a date four
days ago and sent out 220 invitations."
In those four days, Edwards recruited a DJ, a bartender, a buffet
wait staff and two cooks. She spent two days buying party decorations
and food in La Ceiba and-with the help of the two cooks-cooked five
turkeys, two pork legs and four hams. "I cooked everything
except the 300 tamales, 300 rolls and the cake," Mrs. Edwards
said. "I don't like to mess with flour."
Mrs. Edwards, dressed in a long, billowing black ballroom dress,
led seven party games with prizes, including funky dancing games,
a ring-toss competition and a couples' game involving a broom and
roll of toilet paper. After a few drinks, many giggling guests readily
forgot their inhibitions and joined in.
Mrs. Edwards, who has been throwing her annual Parrot Tree Christmas
party for years, said she tries to make each year's party better
than the previous one. "This year, I really tried to improve
the decorations," she said, pointing out that she had carefully
adorned the ballroom, patio and coffee shop with tiny red lights,
green balloons and festive streamers.
BUT NOT LEAST
Not every Bay Islands company has a Christmas party. Some businesses
are too small to afford or organize one, while others have never
started the tradition. Eldon's department store employees don't
celebrate Christmas with an employee party. Neither do the Roatan
employees of Sosa Airlines. Vegas Electric celebrated Christmas
with dinner at Gio's Restaurant on Dec. 13. Over 40 of the company's
employees and their spouses took part in this annual dinner tradition.
H.B. Warren department store employees decided not to hold their
party and "Secret Friend" gift giving this year. The financial
situation of the store and its employees didn't allow them to do
that. "Everybody can't dig into their pockets for a 300-400
Lps. to spend for a gift for secret friend gifts," said Esther
Faye Warren, H.B. Warren floor manager.
Hybur Packing Plant:
On Tuesday, Dec. 16, seventy Mariscos Hybur packing plant employees
showed up for food and festivities at Yvette and Allan Hyde's house
in French Harbour. Seven department heads, along with office staff
and their families, showed up for the seafood packing plant's tenth
annual Christmas party.
The best cooks of the company prepared the meal of Mariscos Hybur-packed
beef, chicken, and seafood: Julie Thompson, Robin Woods, Darlyn
Muñoz and Yvette and Carla Hyde.
No one drank alcohol at the party, but temperaments during the piñata-beating
suggested otherwise. While the children only managed small dents
in the stuffed doll, the adults fell on their hands and knees screaming,
slashing, grabbing and attacking the helpless ornament-motivated,
of course, by the 3,000 Lps. hidden inside.
Although nothing could top the excitement of the Christmas bonuses
that each employee received earlier that day, a raffle drawing excited
guests just as much as the piñata. The prizes weren't as
extravagant as last year's prizes of a TV set, VCR and microwave
oven, but the winners of the raffle still crowed jovially upon hearing
their names called.
Near the end of the evening, Hybur manager Sean Hyde delivered a
forthcoming and emotional speech about the struggles the company
endured during the US shrimp embargo-but only after employees managed
to jokingly douse him with a bucket of water.
The party lasted until 9:30pm and ended just as it had begun: with
a group prayer led by Rev. Brown, in his third year of attending
the Hybur Christmas party. "People are more expectant than
last year," said Rev. Brown.
Who would have ever guessed that Roatan's favorite fix-it men, the
Roatan Electric Company employees, were secretly Karaoke fans? Dec.
19 marked the date that they discovered their hidden talents at
the annual RECO Christmas party at Coxen Hole's J.C. Recreation
Although the invitations read 7pm, the majority of RECO's 60 employees
arrived fashionably late for the annual Christmas bash, held for
the past 10 years at Gio's Restaurant, Half Moon Bay and Brick Bay
Resort. "This is the first year that we've ever rented a place
out exclusively," said Leonardo Casco, company's general manager.
"Juan Pacheco put a sign up and closed the park to the public,
so we have the place to ourselves for the rest of the evening."
RECO tech mechanic Freddy Johnson of West End commented that although
he was enjoying the bash's exclusive vibe, he preferred last year's
open party location at Half Moon Bay. "This bar only has a
limited selection of alcohol," Johnson said. "I could
be drinking a daiquiri or Monkeylala by now."
Johnson said the company always treats their employees to gifts
during the holidays. "Last week, the company gave each one
of us a whole raw turkey with apples, grapes and pears," Johnson
said. "And everyone's been talking about this party for months."
Latin pop music videos played on the open-air dance floor. "We
didn't want to fall short in the entertainment department,"
He said this was the first year that he didn't need to prepare at
all for the party. "Pacheco provided everything," Casco
said. "The food, music, catering, drinks and entertainment
were all included in the price of rental."
At 10pm, guests sat down to a feast of salad, roasted pork, turkey,
mashed potatoes, flan and tres leches. Around 11:30pm, the beer-chugging
and dancing contests began. "The prizes for the winners were
the best part," Casco said. "An electric grill, a toaster,
two blenders and a rice cooker."
Around 1am, the guests discovered the addictive thrill of Karaoke
and all took turns performing until 3am. "We're all already
looking forward to next year," Johnson said.
In the middle of a hectic holiday workday on Dec. 23, the 94 employees
of Fantasy Island Resort took an afternoon break to feast on lobster,
play games and kick their feet up at their annual Employee Christmas
Held in the Fantasy Island conference room at 3pm, most employees
showed up at the bash in their work uniforms, either coming from
or going to work. "It's really fun for all the employees who
are usually busy serving everyone else to have this opportunity
to sit down and be served," said waiter Kenzie Webster.
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STOP THE CARNIVAL"
by Linnea Brown
nor shine stops the fun at the French Harbour Festival.
Third Annual French Harbour Christmas Festival went off with a bang
on Dec. 22 and 23, providing a holiday entertainment event for all
At 6pm, police blocked off the roads to French Harbour for a two-night
street festival under the stars. The whole event was organized by
ORDECIB, Roatan's organization for community development. "Everyone
worked really hard to make this the best festival of the year,"
said Patricia McNab, the organization president. "It's a huge
holiday event where families get to come out and enjoy lots of music,
games, food, fireworks, a boat parade and a street parade."
A tree-shaped light exhibit provided a welcoming entrance to the
festival at the French Harbor Point, alongside a giant inflatable
Pollo Rey. "I'm just glad it's dry this year," commented
Denisa Johnson, a Los Fuertes teacher. (continued on page 10)
From 6pm to 8pm, the power went out in the section between Gio's
Restaurant and Romeo's Restaurant. "The cable just popped down
and all the lights went out, so the RECO truck had to come fix it,"
At 9pm, the first boom of the annual fireworks display sounded,
signaling the beginning of the boat parade. Residents crowded across
the sea side of French Harbour to gaze at the multi-colored, 25-minute
show. Three boats, dressed up in Christmas lights, were the focus
of all the attention until the beginning of fireworks.
Despite hard rain the next evening, locals lined the main street
of French Harbour at 5pm for the annual Christmas parade, which
began at the French Harbour Texaco. The parade featured 30 horses
and 11 floats of decorated boats and cars. "Thanks to our float
coordinator Shelly Hynds, we had floats from organizations like
Fantasy Island, the Iguana Farm and the Municipal," McNab said.
"And the band and dancers from the Tecnico Honduras School
organized their own marching show for the parade."
Tecnico drum corps passed in uniform red t-shirts, providing a powerful
beat for their pom-pom-toting, high-energy dancers.
On the floats, the appointed queen of Ruben Barahona Public School
waved, angels shook their wings and a Santa-in-sunglasses threw out
candy from a siren-blasting fire truck.
Both the horses and the floats were judged by three non-Roatan residents
from the Fantasy Island resort: Eric Hamm from Guanaja and Javier
and Patricia Monge from San Salvador. "The horses were judged
on three things," explained Jennifer McNab, horse parade coordinator.
"Best dressed, best step and most obedient."
"We rated the floats on best decorated, originality, creativity,
representation, clearness, organization and coloring," said Hamm.
"But the best part was that all the participants had plenty of
spirit despite the rain."
Four additional Fantasy Island tourists judged the French Harbour
house-decorating competition. "They drove to all 35 decorated
houses in French Harbour on Sunday night," said Rosa Silvestri,
festival coordinator. "They gave a separate trophy for best-decorated
in the highway area, on the hill and in town."
The festival also featured a block-decorating contest for all French
Harbour residents. "The whole neighborhood from the small bridge
to the Point was divided into nine sections of housing blocks, competing
against each other for best decorations," McNab said. "We
just had to make sure they put them high enough so cars didn't knock
All winners received their prizes at an outdoor awards ceremony followed
by a Christmas concert. "We also had performances by local DJs
and the band Joseph and the Boys on both nights," McNab said.
F.H. FESTIVAL awards
Best block decorations:
1st place.: A tie: Block 7 (The Buccaneer Apartments to Ms. Marina
Mclaughlin's house) and Block 8 (Ms. Barbara Woods house to
Edith Woods house).
Best-decorated house from Eldon's to the Police Station:
1st place: Ms. Sonia McNab; 2nd place: Cheryl McNab; 3rd place:
Best-decorated house from la Loma:
1st place: Ms. Orla Collins; 2nd place: Ana Rosa Collins; 3rd place:
Best house from French Harbour town from Romirez to the wall
1st place: Mr. Sunny Bodden; 2nd place: Kendall Dixon; 3rd place:
Irma and Carlos Fernandez.
Best house from French Harbour highway:
1st place: Ms. Evette Hyde; 2nd place: Marcia McNab; 3rd place:
1st place: Marcia McNab; 2nd place: Nessie McNab; 3rd place: mClemmie
1st place: John McNab; 2nd place: Bob McNab, 3rd place: Fantasy
1st place: Devin McNab; 2nd place: John McNab.
1st place: Island Shipping; 2nd place Martinez Power Boat; 3rd place
Luna y Mar.
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OR PASSION by
DEEP WATER SUBMARINER TAKES TOURISM TO NEW DEPTHS
all began with a reading comprehension book in third grade that
featured an illustration about the building of a submarine. Ever
since, Karl Stanley has been planning, building or diving one himself.
Stanley started building his first submarine C-BUG (Controlled by
Buoyancy Underwater Glider) when he was 15 years old. He persevered
in finishing the $25,000 sub by working minimum wage jobs and running
a small business that sold used text books to college students.
"This is the first and only man-gliding submersible ever made,"
says Stanley about C-BUG, his 12-foot, 2,400 pound vessel made of
metal and glass.
Initially, Stanley saw the sub as more of an exploration vehicle
than a business vehicle. "I made the mistake of keeping track
of exactly how much it was costing," says Stanley.
With the help of Andy and Dana Arcaya, former owners of Sandy Bay's
"The Inn of Last Resort," Stanley visited and eventually
moved to Roatan. "They had a kind of 'dolphin envy' with Anthony's
Key Resort (AKR)," says Stanley, who eventually found a new
harbour for the sub at Half Moon Bay Cabins in West End. The Half
Moon Bay location is the ideal place for the vulnerable sub, which
benefits from both the proximity to deep water and shelter from
strong wind and waves.
In the tourist-submarine business, the real money is in taking a
lot of people at one time. "When I left Roatan after two years,
I had less than a thousand dollars to show for," says Stanley.
"There just wasn't a lot of money in taking people one at a
According to Stanley, the Atlantis corporation owns 40 submarines
that can hold 40 to 60 people and dive as deep as 100 to 150 feet.
At a rate of $80 to $120 per person, Atlantis has become the largest-grossing
tourist service company in North America.
Stanley says that three things have to be in place to run a successful
tourist submarine business: a strong tourist base, calm water with
little current and proximity of deep water.
There aren't many places that offer that kind of experience. A 3-man
sub in the Cayman Islands offers one-hour, 1,000 foot dives at $500
per person. The submarine performs up to five dives a day and has
a staff of 14 people. Several other deep sub tourist ventures didn't
last very long: one in New Zealand and another on Loch Ness Lake
Stanley recently took on the project of building his own 3-person
sub: the yellow and white Idabel in a South East Oklahoma town.
Stanley spent two years constructing the vessel.
Part of the $140,000 construction of the second submarine, Idabel,
was funded by a salvage operation in Havana Harbour that Stanley
took part in, which raised $30,000 to $40,000. By collecting deepwater
inaccessible rare slit seashells, he raised another $50,000.
Following a 75-foot dive at the Broken Bow Lake in Oklahoma, Stanley
went down to 1,500 feet off Roatan's West End. Since Stanley's return
to Roatan in September, the new submarine has performed 21 dives.
"Now all that had to break has broken and all that needed to
be repaired was repaired," says Stanley.
According to Stanley, lights, motors and electronics give him the
most problems. "There is something about electricity and salt
water that don't go together very well," says Stanley.
With a commission paid to Half Moon Bay Cabins, the price of a two-hour
dive is $500 per trip. In the spring of 2004, Stanley plans to diversify
the variety of dives offered to the tourists. He plans to introduce
a night dive, a half-mile dive and a wreck dive to the "Wendy,"
which rests at 2,520 feet. "If I do 200 dives a year, I'll
be happy," says Stanley.