Ladies and gentlemen, start your…hermit crabs? That’s right, here on St. Croix one of the most well attended sporting events on island is the weekly crab races. Held at multiple resort, bar and restaurant locations across the island, these ‘high-stakes’ racing events are fun for the whole family. You can pick a crab and participate, or just watch the fun, either way the crab races are always a delightful (and budget friendly) pastime.
Here on St. Croix, the people understand better than most that the perfect work week begins and ends with a few laughs. From this understanding (and maybe a few libations), the ritualistic pastime of evening Soldier Crab Races was born. The tradition of Soldier Crab Racing started as a form of entertainment centuries ago, so while crab racing is not a new form of entertainment by any means, it is experiencing a fun resurgence thanks to local favorite husband and wife team, Tito and Sue. For over twenty years now, Tito, a lifelong resident of St. Croix, has been carrying on the crab racing tradition with the help of his wife, Sue. Tito and Sue continue to entertain us all and help the week start and end with a few laughs, and some great prizes too.
How do the crab races work? Participants start by choosing their crabs for $2 each and naming them. The crabs get a little name tag on their shell once they have been chosen and named, and then they are put into a bucket to be queued up until race time. The buckets of competing crabs are then placed upside down, with the crabs captive inside, on the course starting point. The course is a set of concentric circles, like a bull’s-eye, and the crabs start in the center and race outward. When it’s race time, Sue sounds the official starting kazoo and the race is on! The buckets are lifted off the crabs and they take off (some much more quickly than others). The winner is the first crab to makes it outside the course circle.
There are four heats in the crab races, then there’s a ‘runoff’ among the winners of the four heats. The winning crabs are chosen from the final two heats, and they earn their ‘sponsors’ some fantastic prizes such as seaplane tickets, gift certificates for shopping or dining, trips to Buck Island, Caribbean jewelry, bottles of rum, and more. The best part is, none of the kids leave feeling as though they lost. When all the prizes have been given out to the actual winners, Tito and Sue round-up the little ones and hand out surprises. I guess you could say, it’s a win-win situation.
The crab races are an island tradition that is fun for the whole family. Come and pick your crab for a chance to win great prizes, or come for the fun and cheer on the racers. With or without kids, the crab races are hysterical, cheap fun and everyone gets into the act.
Check out one of these weekly crab races with Tito and Sue:
- Wednesdays: 5:00pm* at Brew STX
- Fridays: 5pm at Leatherback Brewing Company
*Please note that in true island fashion, times are subject to change. If you are here during St. Croix’s off-season (July-October) and plan to attend the crab races make sure to call ahead and confirm the races are still on.
– Jennie Ogden, Editor
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