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Message of unity at annual tree-lighting ceremony

Published:Saturday | December 5, 2015 | 12:01 AMShereita Grizzle
The municipal Christmas tree provides a beautiful backdrop for downtown Kingston at nights. The lights were turned on at the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation Christmas tree lighting ceremony at the St William Grant Park on Wednesday.
Francois Chalifour (left) Director of Marketing Wisynco assist Mayor of Kingston Angella Brown Burke with turning on the lights to the Christmaas tree at the KSAC tree lighting ceremony at the St William Grant Park on Wednesday December 2, 2015. Looking on are Digicel's Distribution Director, Patrick King, Steadman Fuller, Miss Kingston and St Andrew Festival Queen 2015, Michelle Thomas and Collin Fagan.
People at the KSAC tree lighting ceremony at the St William Grant Park on Wednesday, December 2, 2015.

The need for unity and brotherhood was the key message at the annual tree-lighting ceremony held at the St William Grant Park, downtown Kingston on Wednesday evening.

Held under the theme It's Christmas: Give a Little Love, under the patronage of the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation (KSAC), the annual event drew a massive crowd. Scores of guests turned up from as early as 5 p.m. to not only witness the lighting of the large tree erected in the centre of the park, but to also be part of the free concert held afterwards.

In her welcoming address to the large gathering, Her Worship The Mayor Councillor Angela Brown Burke thanked guests for coming out and supporting the event. She also encouraged the crowd to remember the true meaning of the Christmas season.

"As I thought about what I would say here today, an old tradition came to mind," she said. "I remembered the African concept of ubuntu, which speaks to the humanity and humility we possess as a people. The season is all about giving to others, especially when we don't think we have enough for ourselves."

Her message of giving in the spirit of Christmas was echoed by other guest speakers throughout the evening, including KSAC Youth Mayor Waynette Strachan.

In her address, Strachan reminded the audience that the annual lighting of the Christmas tree was more than just a tradition as it signified the need for Jamaicans to come together in unity and brotherhood.

It was just after 7 p.m. when the mayor and her team took to the stage to press the button that would light up the huge tree. The crowd turned its attention to where the tree was located, smartphones in hand to capture the moment the tree lit up.

As the mayor pressed the button and the lights came on, there were loud cheers and applause from the audience. The concert segment of the evening's programme started immediately after the tree lit up.



The Tivoli Dance Troupe opened the night's performances with a lively dance routine to a reggae version of Little Drummer Boy. They made way for young talent Simona Suare. When Suare first touched the stage, people paid little attention to her, but that all changed the moment that she opened her mouth. The pint-sized singer commanded the stage and captured the attention of the audience with a soulful rendition of Whitney Houston's One Moment in Time. Her vocal capacity stunned the audience and they loved her performance so much that they even requested that she do another number.

She obliged. After giving the audience a second dose of powerful vocals, Suare made way for Marsha K.

The first runner-up in this year's Digicel Rising Stars competition entered the stage to loud cheers. Marsha K performed some popular Christmas selections, including Silent Night and This Christmas, before making way for the 2015 Digicel Rising Stars Winner, Jody Kay. Having performed the national anthem earlier on in the programme, the powerhouse singer returned to thrill the audience with her rendition of Aretha Franklin's Freeway of Love and Kelly Clarkson's Heartbeat Song.

Gospel artistes Omari and Kevin Downswell also thrilled the audience with some of their most popular hits, but the highlight of the gospel segment came during Omari's set when the entertainer asked the audience to observe a moment of silence for the late Sister Scully.

Marsha K returned to the stage following the moment of silence to deliver a classical Sister Scully hit as a tribute to the late singer. As she belted out the lyrics to Hurry Up, the audience could no longer remain seated. People got to their feet and danced up a storm as they celebrated the life of the iconic gospel singer.

Etana, Romain Virgo, and veteran reggae singer Half Pint were the night's other standout performers.