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It's a party weekend ... Fun lovers descend on Ocho Rios for SPF

Published:Thursday | August 3, 2017 | 12:00 AMKimberley Small
These amazingly beautiful ladies, Aisha Thalia (left), Lila Nikole Rivera (centre) and Vanessa Ferbeyre, made a serious impression at SPF Weekend 2013.
Draupadi Daley, Krystal Pitt, Candice McGee, Jo-Anne Campbell, Cheryl Benjamin, and Racquel Lewis, made an impact at SPF Weekend 2013.
David Shirley

Once upon a time, Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) events were the main ones on the entertainment calendar this time of year. However, by all accounts, the celebration of Jamaica's Independence has evolved from generation to generation.

Although celebration and entertainment styles have shifted, the commonality generations share is the opportunity to take a break and party.

These days, many millennials are choosing to use holidays, like Independence, as an opportunity for attending extended party weekends.

"It's been a tradition for young people to want to party and be entertained - to go to Ocho Rios during the Independence holiday," David Shirley, chairman of KLE Group, told The Gleaner.

"Our Jamaican culture is that we work hard and we play hard, and this is a time we celebrate," Shirley said about the Independence period.

With many Jamaicans heading to town centres or making plans to attend Sunday's Grand Gala, the highlight of the country's 55th anniversary of Independence, other fun-loving persons have journeyed to Ocho Rios, St Ann for Summer Playground Fantasy (SPF) Weekend.

"It's a bunch of people who know each other staying in the same resort, in a familiar atmosphere," said Shirley, who is on the promotion team for the event.




"What it tries to do is to space the events in a way that you can enjoy yourself at a party, but then take in the beauty of Ocho Rios and the country vibe. It's not just party, party, party," Shirley said.

Describing weekend mornings with patrons sharing breakfast time and space, Shirley positioned the weekend as more than a party weekend, but also as an opportunity for networking.

"We have a vision of taking this concept regional, and I think the minister of tourism made comments about it, supporting it," Shirley said.

Kevin Bourke, who was once heavily involved in the planning and promotion of ATI and SPF Weekend, told The Gleaner, that holidays are always good for parties.

"I've done many events over time, dating back from ATI, from when I was on the Wray and Nephew side of things. From back then, I saw the advantage and the nostalgia of a holiday. People like experiences around holidays, not just in Jamaica," he said.

Recently, Bourke adjusted his focus to another Jamaican-based weekend experience, with the development of the Tmrw.Tday Culture Festival held in Negril in April.

"There's the 4th of July, Canada Day ... When there's an opportunity to celebrate, it brings people together. I'm an advocate for putting on a quality event on any holiday, for that matter," Bourke said.