Full calendar for Jamaica 55
With this year's theme being 'Celebrating Jamaicans at home and abroad', Jamaicans across the Diaspora were on Wednesday night invited to join in the festivities as the Jamaica 55 Independence celebrations were officially launched.
Scores of guests including government ministers, turned up at the Courtleigh Auditorium, New Kingston, for a preview of the activities. The Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) and participants in the annual competitions wasted no time in giving patrons a taste of the festivities. They summoned the festival spirit and urged Jamaicans to join in on the fun.
Finalists in the Festival Queen Competition excited the crowd as they introduced themselves and the parishes they are representing. Finalists in the Gospel song competition also created a buzz among the patrons as they performed parts of their songs. If the previews were anything to go by, both competitions are expected to be a fight to the finish as contestants this year have vowed to bring their A game.
Set to officially get under way on July 29 and run until August 7, a slate of activities has been planned to commemorate Jamaica 55. Aside from the annual competitions, Augus Mawnin Market, Mello Go Roun, the World Reggae Dance Championship and Grand Gala are among the featured events. Independence activities would usually come to an end after the Grand Gala on August 6, but Minister Olivia 'Babsy' Grange in her address revealed that celebrations would be extended by a day this year and will close out with Fireworks on the Waterfront on August 7.
Grange urged Jamaicans to participate in as many activities as they can, outlining that the achievements of the country are worth being celebrated. "We have done well in these 55 years, so f Independence. At 55 Jamaica has reached a significant milestone although we are still a very young nation, there is much that we have accomplished. We the members of this family called Jamaica has astonished the world in many ways and forms and people everywhere are in amazement and awe as they contemplate the achievements of the largest little dot on the map of the world," she said.
"Independence for me continues to be an emotional thing, it was and continues to be about taking charge of our destiny by setting our own direction. The entire process up to this day continues to be about tremendous pride and hope."