Decking the halls downtown
Lights, action, excitement as St William Grant Park underscores Kingston Christmas
Erica Virtue, Senior Gleaner Writer
The recently lit Christmas tree stands regal in the St William Grant Park in downtown Kingston and the afternoon's heavy rains, post-work evening hustle and bustle, trees dressed in various colours all mingled with noise, charm and character of this busy area when our news team visited last Wednesday.
But this was no ordinary Wednesday. It was the week before Christmas, and children, some only hours before being dismissed from school, home for the holiday, were among the revolving group of hundreds of people entering and leaving the park.
The park rocked with the rhythm of a band that warmed up for a concert in the newly refurbished area, and so did the mosquitoes which swooped down on all and sundry.
But amid the noise was the melodious voice of a child singing Deck the Halls, and it appeared the signing was coming directly to where I stood. The voice was very comfortable with "fa la la la laa, la la la laa".
She was tiny, not more than six years old, beautiful, and beautifully adorned. Her pretty floral dress complemented her African-braided hair, with the white-beaded bangs. I stood taking notes and I stopped her with a question, which ended her singing.
"Jameela Richards," she said, flashing a smile that lit the darkness as she came to a stop. She was holding hands with a young boy, nine-year-old Jevani Richards, her brother.
Close on their heels was their mother, Maxine Hinds.
"I soon come back. A coming back to the park with dem to the concert. A just going to leave something with a friend on East Queen Street and then we come back and tek in de scene," said Maxine.
Jameela wanted to know if I was Santa Claus, but then she answered the question for herself. "You not wearing a Santa suit, and you not bleaching," she said to uncontained laughter. There was obvious discomfort on her mother's face.
"But a still want a dolly and a bicycle for Christmas," she said.
Jevani appeared to be the quiet one, not saying much, except, "a want a good football" when asked what he wanted from Santa.
As they walked off towards the Pearnel Charles Arcade, Maxine's voice was clear.
"Hey gyal, how you mean Santa a bleach ...?" The little girl responded with loud giggles which faded in the evening, and into the noise.
Close to the back of the stage, a security guard's authoritative voice filled the evening.
"Whey yuh parents deh?" she shouted to four little boys, the youngest being about five years and the eldest about eight years. Two of the boys stopped to respond, and pointed in the direction of an adult male dressed in red shirt, black pants and sneakers, while two continued to run like they had just escaped captivity.
The security guard said while children alone in the park was not so much a problem, in this case she asked because the boys were particularly small.
A noticeable drizzle began again, and brought a group of young adults hurrying towards the stage area.
"I am going to dance tonight. I am just going to put everything in my foot, hip, hands and neck," said a young woman, walking in a group of about eight. Three of the young men in the group quickly joined her in putting on an impromptu 'dance extravaganza' with electrifying movements.
The dancing appeared to have been choreographed, and applause rang out for the brief entertaining moment.
"That's why I like Christmas. People just kinder around dis time. You tink anybody would a clap if a neva Christmas," concluded the young woman as she disappeared into the gathering concert crowd. Her leaving coincided with the rain getting heavier and signalled that it was definitely time to leave the welcoming arms of the happy St William Grant Park in downtown Kingston.