Wed | Jan 23, 2019

Comrades in celebratory mood at conference

Published:Monday | September 21, 2015 | 12:00 AMRyon Jones
A view of the crowd that gathered inside the National Arena for the conference.
Legislators have decriminalised the possession of two ounces or less of marijuana, but this weed vendor appears to have been carrying around a little more than that as he strolled around outside the National Arena.

THEY CAME from near and far for the People's National Party's (PNP) 77th Annual Conference, transforming the National Arena into a sea of orange with a sprinkling of yellow - a colour made more popular in the party by President Portia Simpson Miller during the leadership run-off in 2006.

Party supporters came clad in T-shirts bearing the faces of their political representatives, some of whom they accompanied in a show of support with a general election on the horizon.

The turnout included persons on crutches, some in wheelchairs, the very old and the young.

The women were fashionably attired as they displayed various styles, from turning blouses into full 'dress' to cutting up their clothes to the point where more skin was exposed than left covered.

So overwhelming was the turnout that party Chairman Robert Pickersgill announced at 12:10 p.m. that the doors to the arena had to be closed, as the venue was full.

Former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson remarked during his address to the gathering that, for the first time attending a conference, he almost could not get in.

For some individuals, however, not being able to see their political representatives in person was not an option, leading them to break off one of the doors to the side of the arena in order to gain entrance.

For those who were satisfied with remaining on the outside and watching on the big screen, they were in a celebratory mood, as if the general election constitutionally due by next year was already won. Some supporters danced up a storm to songs blaring from the mobile music system in the parking lot.

Other seasoned conference goers were prepared, as they had brought along games such as bingo which they engaged in to pass the time.

Business boomed for the vendors who were out in their numbers with boiled corn, soup, cooked food, ganja and alcohol all on the menu.

Those inside the arena, which was draped in orange and black with banners of the various PNP representatives hung right around the facility, were not to be outdone. They sang along to party songs and cheered the messages from their representatives, with vuvuzelas being the noisemaker of choice.

When it was thought that the noise in the venue could not increase in volume, it did, signalling Patterson's arrival. The decibel level went up even further when Simpson Miller greeted the gathering minutes later.