May 6, 2021 |Hopeton O’connor-Dennie |
Festival Alive Despite COVID In Jamaica
The mother of all festivals in Jamaica and likely in the English speaking Caribbean will take place in 2021 despite the onset of the deadly coronavirus pandemic which like the California wildfire has spread with devastating effects.
Hon. Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, Gender Culture & Sports Minister will announce these plans May 6, 2021.
Theme: “Year Of The Soloist”
The spectacular Grand Gala which is the climax or high point of the Annual Independence celebrations was not held in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was the 6th of August 1962 when Jamaica got its independence from Britain. Prior to that date we were a colony of the British Empire.
The Grand Gala in a nutshell is held at the National Stadium, and is a fantastic ceremony consisting of various uniform groups and a host of entertainers. There are dancers performed by groups in the presence of an estimated 36,000 spectators. Various other artistic pieces are performed.
Among the varied events is a Festival Queen who is chosen and crowned prior to the day and a Festival Song competition island wide. The Festival Song competition is an open national competition with cash prize of up to two million Jamaican dollars. The Festival Song selected is performed & sung at the Grand Gala. So is the Festival Queen paraded to the massive crowd and TV audiences locally and in the diaspora.
Groups representing our motto: “Out Of Many One People.” Almost all groups representing the vast and rich mosaic of cultures and ethnic groups that make up the Jamaican society display their costumes and cultural pieces. For example: representative groups from the Chinese Community, Indian Community, The United Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) to name a few.
A spectacular bike ride pass is a crowd pleaser along with classic cars drive pass. It is a sight to behold. The vehicles drive around in the cycle track in the National Stadium located at the sprawling Independence Park.
Culture Minister Grange
Further details will be unveiled and depends on how our vaccination unfolds, and if by then enough Jamaicans and other citizens are vaccinated in our country to allow the country to achieve herd immunity. A live virtual event will be held on Thursday, May 6, at 9:30 PM to announce these plans and opening of the various competitions like Festival Song and Festival Queen selection processes.
Minister Grange is undisputedly the creative genius who puts it all together. We hail her and her team for her tremendous organizing skills and their collective genius. It is not a one person event.
We wish the event all the success.
Hopeton O’connor Dennie is Senior Caribbean/International Correspondent for Vision Newspaper