by Latoya Burnham
From well before Parliament was schedule to open for its newest term, a modest crowd was gathering outside the gates.
Some in their yellow and some in their red, it was clear that today, just like the last month or so across the island would be a case of “Who do we support?” as Members of Parliament, Senators and other guests strolled through the gates.
Scream after scream rose from outside these gates as politicians arrived dressed to the nines for the auspicious day.
One of the earliest arrivals was MP Santia Bradshaw, who was well in the Senate Chamber even before 3 p.m., an hour ahead of the official start of proceedings.
Greeting party supporters outside the gates, Bradshaw revealed a wide and engaging smile as both of her parents accompanied her inside.
This would prove to be just the beginning of the stream of MPs who would pause to first greet their supporters, with St. Thomas representative Cynthia Forde hugging Barbados Labour Party and Democratic Labour Party faithfuls alike.
“All o’ we is one. There ain’t no BLP or DLP today,” she was heard to say as she hugged and shook hands with some of those wearing the “Dems Now … Dems Again” campaign shirts.
It seemed the same when Opposition Leader Mia Mottley arrived, as a deafening echo aroseed from the crowd, and she too exited her vehicle outside the gates to greet and share a few words with those who came to see her. A similar roar preceded her fellow St. Peter MP and former leader Owen Arthur who was quick on her heels and followed to greet the people before proceeding into Parliament Yard.
In the yard itself, white tents dotted the landscape with caterers already set up for the later reception, while at the gates at both ends, security personnel screened all guests before they could move beyond.
St. Michael Central MP and Minister Steven Blackett with his wife Eleanor were also heartily received, as was Minister of Agriculture, David Estwick, who again received deafening shouts of approval.
His wide smile and brisk step seemed to give the crowd the assurance that his earlier publicised illness was indeed behind him and he was poised to get on with the work.
Though unsuccessful at the polls, new Senator Patrick Todd seemed undaunted and was cheerfully greeted and almost swarmed by supporters, as was St. George North MP Gline Clarke, who was immediate enfolded in hugs, bending him to the police barriers set up to keep the crowds at bay.
Shortly before 3:30 p.m., the Prime Minister’s vehicle rolled passed the gates stopping before the steps of Parliament to reveal an ever smiling Freundel Stuart, accompanied by his daughter, Julianna.
His was followed by a flurry of arrivals by the remaining parliamentarians — one behind the other and sometimes several at a time.
By 3:50 p.m. when the strains of the Royal Barbados Police Force Band stuck up its tune and all eyes turned southward, the entire Cabinet and Senate were in doors, with a few other dignitaries and guest pulling up the rear.
Commissioner Darwin Dottin and Chief of Staff of the Barbados Defence Force Colonel Alvin Quintyne arrived together around 3:55, though in their respective vehicles and a hush fell over Heroes Square as all awaited the arrival of the Governor General Sir Elliott Belgrave.
Shortly after 4 p.m. the sharp sound of horses’ hooves striking pavement was heard in the distance, followed thereafter by the Police Force’s mounted troupe and the Governor General and his wife.
He received the salute, inspected the guard, and immediately after dispensing with these formalities, the stout and personable Queen’s representative took hold of his smiling wife’s hand and entered the gates of Parliament to deliver his throne speech and declare the sitting open. [email protected]