The stage is set for this week’s big renaming of Westbury New Road in honour of this country’s best known performing artiste Rihanna.
As part of the 51st anniversary of Independence celebrations on Thursday, Government will also be mounting a major sign on the street on which the Bajan pop sensation grew up.
“The sign is going to have a really beautiful photograph of her, three blocks of script – one identifying the date and by whom it was unveiled, of course Rihanna and the Prime Minister. The second one is a little synopsis of the history of her incredible accomplishments, like the Grammy Awards, and then the third one is a personal message from her,” tourism consultant Hugh Foster explained during a visit to the site earlier today.
It was on October 13, in a brief statement released by the Barbados Government Information Service, that the Ministry of Tourism had revealed Government’s big plans.
“The Government of Barbados will on Independence Day, Thursday, November 30, 2017, officially change the name of Westbury New Road located in St Michael to Rihanna Drive in honour of Barbadian superstar Ms Robyn Rihanna Fenty who grew up in Westbury New Road,” the brief announcement had said.
Since then, extensive work has been done in preparation for the Independence Day unveiling, which takes place at 3 p.m. Thursday in the close-knit urban community.
Today, as workmen contracted by Government were busy putting the finishing touches to their sprucing up work, Supervisor Kennedy Springer reported that a total of 38 houses would be fully painted and beautified by Wednesday.
Kathy Ife Harris, who has lived in the community all her life and will be delivering a speech at Thursday’s ceremony, said she was grateful for the facelift, and was eagerly looking forward to the re-naming which she expects will attract thousands of visitors to the area and give Barbados some much needed tourism exposure.
“I like the fact that the area is being niced up for the residents. Changing the name to Rihanna Drive did something for everybody because our houses look good for Christmas,” she said, adding that “we now have a brand name street”.
Harris also described Rihanna as “the best thing that our tourism board has”, while suggesting that the renaming should also provide a boost to the island’s number one industry.
“Everybody would know this street. It will end up in magazines all over the world. If people use their heads they could even make a little dollar out of all the traffic,” an excited Harris said.
Also happy that the street would now bear Rihanna’s name is Monica Cooke-Waithe, who told Barbados TODAY the 29-year-old truly deserved the national accolade after all she had done for the island.
“She deserves it after putting Barbados on the map,” she said.
Another resident, Sandra Pilgrim, told Barbados TODAY she was extremely grateful for the facelift which she said was already generating increased traffic in the area.
“We used to get a lot of tourists, but to me now we getting more. . . . People just want to see where she [Rihanna] used to live. It doesn’t even matter the day, even on Sundays we get a lot of tourists,” she told Barbados TODAY.