Christmas is a time of family, cheer, giving and love. We all have our traditions: Getting new curtains; painting the house; turkey; and deciding whose house is the gathering house for Christmas. Internationally, picking and cutting down a Christmas tree is a way that families bond. We all have these family traditions that stick with us throughout the years. What about starting a new tradition this Christmas?

 

The K1 Britannia Christmas Angels Program is a great way that families can create a tradition that bonds them together. Participation embodies the meaning of Christmas, which is giving and showing love. Knowing that every year, you can come to the Christmas tree, pick an angel, get a gift and return home with a Christmas angel is a great feeling. Throughout the years, you can build your Christmas tree decorations with all the handmade angels you’ve picked, representing a child or elder you have touched.

 

Seeing all the Christmas angels hung up during the season is sure to bring a sense of happiness and genuine joy for being able to bless someone else’s life. Some 600 handmade angels will be hung up on our Christmas tree at Clem Labega Square from Friday, December 16, to Sunday, December 18, from 9:00am to 7:00pm. Each Christmas angel will represent a child or teenager in foster care, a Sr. Basilia Center client, a St. Martin’s Home elder, a child under Social Services, or an underprivileged child.

 

From a child who is not with his parents this Christmas, an elder who may not have the company of family during this time, to a child under social services who is wondering if he will get a gift this Christmas, being able to be a part of a group of people that decided to touch each of their lives is special and priceless.

 

Those are the great memories you want to build as a human being, a group of friends or a family. Children will remember the act of picking an angel, choosing the gift and knowing and feeling the joy of giving it to someone who needs that extra love this Christmas. Instilling these values early shows that giving is always more rewarding than receiving.

Everything culminates with a Christmas party for the foster children as you hear the sounds of kids laughing and playing, the smell of a good Christmas meal, hugs and kisses being shared, joy and happiness in their eyes, smiles on their faces and the excitement in the air as they await their names being called for gifts.

 

K1 Britannia Foundation is passionate about bringing together families, friends and the community at large with this simple act of kindness. We encourage you to think about doing something kind this month and see how it makes you feel. You’ll think you’re blessing the child or elder that made this angel, and you will, but don’t underestimate how this will positively impact your life for the better. Spread the word and tell family and friends so that everyone will make Christmas merry again!

 

Sun rises at 6:33am

Sun sets at 5:37pm

Moon phase: second quarter, waxing gibbous

Moon rises at 2:54pm

Moonset: 2:46am

 

Meteor Shower Time

Throughout this weekend and on until Tuesday, December 13, look out for falling stars! It’s the Geminid Meteor Shower coming at you from outer space! The moon will be big and bright, about 65% full on Saturday and 100% full on Tuesday, so it’s not perfect conditions, but with cloudless skies, you should be able to see some nice streaks across the sky.

 

The Geminids are considered to be one of the best meteor showers of the year with typical event rates of as much as 50 per hour. The peak comes Tuesday night – and the best viewing hours are typically after midnight. However, if you’re not one to stay up late, you can still watch during the evening hours. Although the meteors are few and far between at early- to mid-evening, you might – if you’re really lucky – catch an earthgrazer – a slow-moving and long-lasting meteor that shoots horizontally across the sky. (Thanks, Earthsky.org, for that new term – new to me, anyway!)

 

The Geminid meteor shower is named after the constellation Gemini. The radiant point of the “falling stars” is near the bright star Castor which marks the head of one of the Gemini twins. When the radiant point is near the horizon, the number of meteors you see is few. The radiant climbs highest up around 2:00am, and that’s why you see the highest numbers of meteors around that time. But you don’t need to know the constellation Gemini to see the meteor shower. The Geminid meteors will streak across all parts of the heavens from late night until dawn.

Do you call meteors “falling” or “shooting” stars? It’s okay, I do it too; but they in fact have little to do with stars. Meteors are coming from our own solar system phenomenon; they occur whenever our planet Earth crosses the orbital path of a comet. We, the earth, are like a car driving through a cloud of gnats; we catch a few on the windscreen as we plough through their domain. They tiny particles are debris from the comet and it burns up when it goes into the Earth’s atmosphere. We get the Geminid meteor shower every year in early December. The meteors are pretty fast – slicing through the Earth’s atmosphere at some 35 kilometres – or 22 miles – per second!

 

Meanwhile in the west-southwest, just after sunset, enjoy the very bright evening star, Venus, along with the less bright and slightly red planet Mars.

 

In Memoriam

This week saw the passing of one of the greatest among us. Astronaut and senator, John Glenn, was a personal hero and lived a full and long life free from scandals. Married for more than 70 years, he was the first person to orbit the earth, and half a century later became the oldest person to go to space. He had the right stuff in so many ways! What an inspiration and what a life! Godspeed, John Glenn.

 

Thank you for keeping up with the Night Sky articles. If you are out later on in the week, each star rises about four minutes earlier each day than written here, and the moon rises 50 minutes later. Night Sky is researched and compiled by Lisa Davis-Burnett. Earthsky.org is a key resource for information and images. Questions or comments? Email lisa@thedailyherald.com

By Will Johnson

   There are dire predictions that newspapers are about to disappear. This is based on the advent of the Internet and to the phenomenal rise of Social Media. And so it is important to document the role of newspapers on our Dutch Windward Islands.

   In the past in order to call oneself a journalist it was necessary to attend a school of journalism. Many journalists went on to become famous authors.

When it comes to kickboxing in St. Maarten, Marco London has few equals. The multiple kickboxing title holder was recently named Sports Icon for Kickboxing in the second annual Brown Pelican Sports Award.

“I was very honoured when I heard that I was nominated for an award. I did not expect to win and really was surprised when my name was called,” London said. “I was really proud and humbled at the same time. I hope that the award will encourage other athletes to keep working hard in the sport that they practice.”

London has won numerous titles in his lifetime, including the 1993 World middleweight champion Shidokan bare knuckle karate; 1994 World middleweight champion Shidokan bare knuckle karate; 1995 World middleweight champion Shidokan bare knuckle karate (aired on ESPN 2); 1996 World middleweight champion Shidokan bare knuckle karate (aired on PPV); 1996 ISKA Full contact karate kickboxing amateur world champion; 1997 ISKA European super middleweight kickboxing champion; 1997 ISKA European light heavyweight Thai boxing champion and 1997/1998 four successful title defences of both ISKA titles in France, Martinique, St. Maarten and Ireland. He also received an award from the Island Government Tourism Bureau in 2004 for involvement and contribution to sports in St. Maarten and putting St. Maarten on the map internationally through his fights being shown on ESPN worldwide.

London says he is a humble, easy-going person who likes to excel in what he does. He is an engineer by profession after having studied aviation engineering in the Netherlands. He was born in the Netherlands and after graduating from engineering school decided to move to St. Maarten – his father’s place of birth. “By visiting St. Maarten often when I was young, this is where I dreamed of living my adult life. As soon as I finished school, I looked for a job here and came to live here.”

London started his career working as an engineer at Winair in 1991. After nine years, his drive for something different led him to the Fire Department, where he worked as a deputy chief for about seven years. He then worked for Windward Roads for some years and currently works at TelEm as a manager in the technical department.

He began his journey into kickboxing while attending school. London said kickboxing was very popular in Amsterdam/Holland in the 80s. He and some school friends tried out a class one day and he was hooked after that. “It taught me focus and discipline and helped me to release a lot of surplus energy I had at that age. After I started training, my school results as well as my behaviour in school improved a lot.”

In 1983, London joined a club in Bijlmer, Amsterdam, and in 1985, he started competing in Holland at an amateur level and a semi-pro level. This went pretty well and by 1990, he had a record of 13 fights with one loss. During that period, he also started teaching kickboxing at a government sponsored programme to encourage youngsters to do positive things and get them off the block.

Then shortly after moving to St. Maarten in 1991, London ran into Oster Herbert who is a well-known martial artist on the island. “He heard I did kickboxing and encouraged me to start teaching. I started teaching at the tent at Mullet Bay that used to belong to the conference centre in those days. As the class grew, we moved to different locations on the island and many students came and went during those days.”

London explained what he loves about the sport: “What I like about kickboxing is that it trains your complete body. It builds muscles, strength, flexibility and self-confidence, but also respect and humility. The excitement that competition brings also brought me closer to God. The sport helped me to realise I needed spiritual help to achieve my goals and could not do it alone or by depending on people.”

From the time he started competing, the sport became a daily activity; London trained at least six days per week. “Besides training myself, I would teach and train students who were also competing at a lower level. I did it for fun, but I would always be ready to compete. When I won my first Shidokan World title in Chicago in 1993, I really stepped it up and started training like a pro. Besides regular kickboxing training, I would also swim and run. Weight training has never really been something that interested me. During all this training, I always continued to teach students. At a certain point, we had a very large competition team that was notorious in the Caribbean for winning many matches.”

London’s most memorable moment in the sport was winning the European title in kickboxing in St. Maarten. “The whole crowd went crazy during the match and really pushed me to win. My late grandfather who was then in his 80s was also there and I was really glad that I was able to achieve this great title with him there.”

One of his low points was losing the Shidokan world title in 1998. “It was really a low point. That night it seemed that everything was set to ensure I would not win. I had to fight three fights in one night, and the organisation had most of the strong challengers in my pool. During the match, the judges were not scoring anything in my favour while I thought I was landing points. The match was extended three times in one round and in the last round, I slipped and my opponent was able to score with a knee to my head. It was the end of the match and I was not able to even the score. I was really disappointed with that loss.”

London no longer trains as hard and now only teaches and trains three nights a week. “I have some very promising students and when they prepare for competition, I tend to join their daily schedule and will also train five days.” He says St. Maarten has many athletes who train at a very high level and sometimes must work twice as hard as sportsmen from bigger countries who have better facilities and professional coaches.

Asked what the challenges faced by athletes in the country today are, he said, “The biggest challenge for most athletes I think is lack of competition. To compete on a regular basis at a good level, local athletes need to travel to other islands/countries. Due to the high cost, this limits the amount of exposure of our athletes to real competition. Athletes in Europe and the US compete at a very regular frequency, which improves their skill and routine. We do not have that advantage and always have less experience when we compete internationally.”

He thinks this situation can be turned around if more funds are made available and if local facilities are up to par so that teams from abroad can come here to compete and local athletes can travel more often. “This requires a lot of funds for travel and lodging for teams. Most teams in the region face the same issues with regard to the cost of travel and sometimes when events are organised locally, not all countries will be able to come to our island to compete. French islands have special hostels where athletes can stay at a very low price. Curaçao also has a large dorm for football teams that visit at SDK. Building such a facility locally would make it easier to invite teams from abroad. Besides that, funding for local teams to travel to events abroad will also have to be made available through government and private sponsorship.”

His advice to youngsters? “Hard work and dedication beat talent. By being committed and training hard on a regular basis, you can excel in any sport you love. Sport is something that will have a lot of positive side effects; and besides health benefits, it creates teamwork, discipline and lifelong friendships.”

His future goal is to continue teaching and getting his students to reach higher heights than he has reached. “Besides that, keeping young students busy and motivated in doing this sport is also something that I want to continue doing.”

Besides being a kick-boxer, London is a father and a husband. He loves family life and loves spending time with his family.

Saba Day Weekend filled with activities

Saba is the place to be this weekend with the celebrations of the 41st anniversary of Saba Day in full swing. Although the official celebration was held yesterday (Friday), there are still some fun-filled activities to be enjoyed today and tomorrow.

Under the motto: “Hold My Memories Dear”, the island government kicked off the festivities yesterday with the official celebration held at Saba Comprehensive School in the village of St. John’s. The celebration culminated in a grand show at Princess Juliana Sports Field, featuring King Bubba, King Vers, Guapo and Daddy Slim.

Saba’s fishermen had to leave the show early, as the traditional Wahoo Tournament started at 12:01 sharp. The spectacular weigh-in of the catch, which is always a sight to behold, took place at 4:00pm. It will also be an early start of the day for the athletes participating in the Sea to Summit Race, organized by the Saba Triathlon Committee. The race starts at Cove Bay at 7:30am, and will lead the athletes to the Trail Shop in Windwardside from where they will start hitting the trails.

Sports-minded youngsters between the ages of 10 and 11 will be competing in the Child Focus Soccer Tournament at Johan Cruijff Court in The Bottom. The first ball will start rolling at 10:0am. One hour later, at 11:00am, the booths will open at Fort Bay, which will be transformed into the ideal location for a nice day on the waterfront. Fort Bay is also the location for the Child Focus Kite Competition, which will be underway from 2:00pm.

Rebels Band and DJ Biggers will be providing live entertainment from 9:00pm.

Saba Day activities will continue tomorrow, Sunday, December 4, at 10:00am with the Child Focus Soccer Tournament for ages six to eight at Johan Cruijff Court.

The booths at Fort Bay will open again at 11:00am when Saba’s Fastest Man and Family Fun Day, organized by Saba Boxing and Fitness Association, will be taking place at Johan Cruijff Court from 12:00 noon.

The competitions with prizes to be won include 50-metre races in various age categories, family tag-rugby, family-team soccer, family tug-of-war, family obstacle race, and family relay-race.

From 1:00pm, Saba Festival Foundation will be holding a Target Shooting Competition at Fort Bay; and a Teens’ Basketball Tournament will be held from 3:00pm at the Gym in St. John’s.

Saba Day festivities will close off with live performances, featuring Riddim Youngsters, One Blood Band and DJ Speed from 9:00pm.

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