Queen’s Jubilee Celebrated Vincentian Style
Celebrations to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II’s ascension to the throne kicked into high gear on Monday, June 4, across the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth Realms.
The highlight event was a Beacon Ceremony, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines was not to be left out.
Local Beacon Event
The Botanical Gardens, one of the crowning jewels of our colonial history, played host to the national leg of the Beacon event, Monday, June 4. Each country was given a specific time at which their Beacon should be lit in connection with the lighting of the Royal Beacon.
After the Parade Fall-in and March off at 4:00 pm, the Beacon Event began. Members of the RSVG Police Force, SVG Cadets Corps, the Girl Guides and other uniformed bodies lined the pathway through the Gardens to Government House.
The Governor General, Sir Frederick Ballantyne, accompanied by Ms. Rene Baptiste, Chairperson of the Diamond Jubilee Committee, led a stroll through the Gardens, beginning at the Amphitheatre. The first of the stops up to Government House was at the tree recently planted by the Earl of Wessex, where Mrs. Grace Peters-Clarke, Literature teacher at the Girls High School, read four poems depicting life in Belize, Dominica, St. Lucia and St. Kitts from the years 1962-1972. Clad in a tie-dye dress and African inspired head wrap, Peters-Clarke was the perfect representation of a Caribbean Woman at these times.
The Governor General’s party moved on to their next stop, the Lower Steps of the Gardens where they were serenaded by Ranger, Shanique Browne and a member of the Kingstown Baptist Church Choir. They sang a medley of Vincentian Classics, like ‘St. Vincent my Homeland’, and other inspirational pieces, representing Barbados, Guyana and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, in the year 1972 to 1982.
The pond area, which was encircled by members of the uniformed organizations, served as the stage for the Avenue Dancers who performed to a mix of Caribbean favourites, featuring genres like Soca and Reggae representing the islands of Anguilla, Cayman Islands and Jamaica of 1982 to 1992.
The stroll up to Government House continued with a performance by the Genesis Steel Orchestra at the Plant Nursery Area, representing. The small pan ensemble entertained the party with their melodious renditions of pieces representing Trinidad, Grenada and Montserrat from the year 1952 to 1962.
At the last stop, which was on the Steps of Government House, the Kingstown Baptist Church Choir sang two Gospel Numbers, ending the journey the right way.
Following this, activity was centred in the Flagpole area of Government House. The area, in the front of the Government House which was decorated in the colours of the Union Jack, was encircled by the Royal Police Force Band, Girl Guides and Rangers. Four local pigeons were being symbolically freed.
Governor General and Queen’s representative Sir Frederick Ballantyne was responsible for the official lighting of the Beacon, in the form of a Union Jack Decorated Oil Drum, at 5:00 pm sharp. This was followed by a six-gun salute and the playing of this country’s national anthem and that of the United Kingdom.
In her closing remarks, Baptiste thanked “all the Vincentians who made this a reality,” including Latoya Deroche-John, Dwight Lewis and other members of the Jubilee Celebrations Committee.
She expressed that the event turned out a lot better than they had been expecting and reminded persons present that the Gardens was chosen for this event because it is the sight of the Jubilee Legacy Project, which is aimed at its restoration for the 250th anniversary in 2015.
The Governor General expressed thanks to all of the performers, saying, inter alia, “Above anything else, this highlights the immense talent of the Vincentian population. Above all, remember how creative Vincentians are and what hidden talents lie among us.”
He also conveyed thanks to Ms. Baptiste for co-ordinating the activities.
The Celebrations in St. Vincent, continued on Tuesday, June 5th with an Art and Photography Exhibition at the new Public Library. Held in the Reference area, the exhibition showcased art, craft and photography of a number of Vincentian artists, with special focus on the colonial days and visits of Queen Elizabeth.
Diplays included work from Vincentian artists Robert Joyette, Curtis Robinson and Owen Ralph; photographer Kingsley Roberts and students of the SVGCC Art Department, as well as sketches from the works of Dr. Vivian Child.
Preceding both the Beacon Ceremony and Art Exhibition was a special sitting of this country’s House of Assembly last Friday, June 1.
Leader of Government business Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, Leader of the Opposition Arhnim Eustace, Minister of Education Girlyn Miguel and Opposition M.P. St. Clair Leacock were among those making presentations.
Dr. Gonsalves highlighted the Queen’s “sensitivity to people’s suffering,” and paid tribute to the Queen for prompting Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to do something to ensure the end of the apartheid system.
Opposition leader Arnhim Eustace noted the long and unbroken period of rule by Queen Elizabeth, and assured that the opposition “will continue to pay respect to her Majesty.”
Events to bring the celebrations to a closure here will include a June 12 Parade, scheduled for Arnos Vale Playing Field, and a Toast to Her Majesty at Government House on the same day.
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by: Karissa Clarke