With a blast of fireworks and a flick of a switch, the City lit up tonight as Barbados ushered in the Community Independence Celebrations.
The pleasure of filling the City with lights fell to young seven year old Julian Brooks, an autistic student of the Irving Wilson School. Escorted into the inner basin by the Barbados Coast Guard from their headquarters up to the Wickham/Lewis Boardwalk and then up to National Heroes Square by the 22 parish ambassadors, the packed area exploded into cheers as he flicked the switch to declare Independence celebrations officially started.
From early evening crowds had begun to gather in the Square as numerous streets around the City were closed to facilitate the elaborate set-up and ceremony.
Crowds lined the boardwalk for a good vantage point, as others edged in from all sides to either glimpse the stage or get a view of the two large screens set up on either side.
Following speeches by MP for the City Patrick Todd, Sagicor Vice President Stephen Robinson and Minister of Culture Stephen Lashley, who declared the celebrations open, oohs and ahhs were heard from the crowd, followed by gasps as fireworks lit the sky and waters of the nearby Careenage.
Lashley said that Barbados’ national identity “is constantly under threat” and “our understanding of what it means to be an independent nation may often become blurred” therefore, it was vital “that as we go into this Independence month of November, that we pause, and reflect on who we really are, as Barbadians.
“We should reflect on what it was that, not so long ago, allowed us to be able to boast of having strong, close-knit, productive communities, at the core of which was, of course, the extended family.
“As we celebrate Independence, we must not only understand what it is that we mean by being independent, but we must do everything as citizens to protect that independence. We all have a responsible to live up to the ideals of nationhood, to take prudent decisions based on what is real rather than what is imaginary,” he said.
Independence he said, must be a state of mind.
Performances came from the New Dimension Eaglets, who’s danced a stirring presentation entitled Carry Your Cross, to a selection from gospel singers Mary Mary.
They were followed by saxophonist Joseph Callender, who also impressed with On The Other Side.
The strong vocals of young Azizi Clarke also drew a big response from the audience, when accompanied by Roger Gittens she delivered an original piece, I Believe.
But it was returning national CiCi, who ended the show with a jazz rendition of Beautiful Barbados that drew those sitting under the tents to their feet.
It was a short, but enjoyable start to what will be 30 days of celebrations toward the recognition of Barbados’ 46th year. (LB)