Heavy rain was no match for Barbadian patriotism, as hundreds braved overcast conditions this morning to witness the annual independence parade at the historic Garrison Savannah.
While some feared that Barbados’ 51st independence anniversary celebrations would be overshadowed by the nostalgia and hype created for last year’s half-century milestone, many in attendance emphatically stated that each year of sovereignty must be treasured.
Even after 51 years, the sight of uniform regiments showcasing their marching skills has not lost its appeal. Hundreds gathered at the Garrison while even more persons decked in blue and yellow lined Bay Street, jostling for the best vantage points to cheer on the troops.
Devoted Barbadian Janice Trotman told Barbados TODAY that she has been present at every Independence parade since 1966.
“I am very happy to be 101 per cent Barbadian. I love my country and we have the best parade in the world. I was here for all of the parades and I don’t leave the country once it is independence and if I have to go overseas I will do so after,” she said.
Trotman added that while the marching skill seemed to have waned over the years, she was happy that young people appeared quite keen to carry on the tradition and this augured well for the future.
Deon Deane said she was also impressed with today’s proceedings, noting that even after coming to the parade for close to 20 years, she was still awestruck by the precision and co-ordination of the uniformed services.
“This year’s parade is spectacular and I have come to expect nothing less over the years. Those displays are sharp and I am thoroughly impressed with what I have witnessed today,” she said, while lamenting the size of the crowd this year was smaller than previous years.
Barbadian born US citizen, Roger Grant, who was attending the parade for the first time said that the “affair gave me a better appreciation and greater pride for my Barbadian roots. I am just really proud to be able to share this experience with my wife.”
British visitor Kent Stonebank told Barbados TODAY that he flew in especially for the event. While he lauded the ceremony, he revealed that he was more impressed with the enthusiasm of the spectators.
“I think that everyone here really wants to be involved and they are looking forward to the event and they naturally want to be a part of the event. It is not forced and everyone wants to be here. I was really impressed by that,” Stonebank said.
The little ones were also eager to share their thoughts on the morning’s activities.
Eight-year-old Jakeema Haynes said she learnt that it took a lot of hard work to produce a grand independence parade.
“It must have taken a lot of hard work to do this and I really liked everything I saw. When they came down the street they were sweating but they look like they were still enjoying themselves and I really liked it,” she said.
Immediately after the final group of uniformed services passed the Government headquarters, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart crossed the street to greet cheering spectators and delighted children.