Free STYLE! Emancipation Park alive and well
The heavy Wednesday evening downpour in sections of the Corporate Area did not stop individuals from gathering in Emancipation Park - the secured, cultural, recreational and entertainment centre, nestled between Oxford Road and Knutsford Boulevard in New Kingston.
Many were gathered for regular exercises after finishing warm-up jogs or walk on the 500-metre track which is one of the features of this beautifully transformed dust bowl. Others sat under the lights, some sat on park benches, a father watched his son and daughter run and squeal with glee, enjoying the vast grounds of the park. It's a big difference from their Maxfield experience.
Somewhere in the park came the sound of Kenny Rogers singing Oh Holy Night. Yes, it's the season of Christmas.
Patrick White took out his seven-year-old son, Khelmani White, and five-year-old daughter, Rhianna, to the park for play. It was a school evening, but this dad did not care. He was back in Kingston on his day off from his job in St Ann where he works as a security guard, and would not miss this opportunity to spend time with his children.
"Yeah, I always take them here when I get the time. Anytime I get a day off, I try to spend it with them. So I take them out when I am in town and I will take them to country for Christmas," White told The Sunday Gleaner as his daughter tugged on his hands for him to get the promised ice cream
"I like to run around. I like to see the water in the fountain high, and the lights in the water," said little Khelmani.
"I like to run, too. I like Christmas here, 'cause there is a Santa Claus with a cape like Spiderman. But I have spelling tomorrow (Thursday) and I have to get all right before I can come back," said Rhianna, who dragged her father away from the space we talked. She wanted the promised ice cream!
Amid the loud sounds of traffic on the busy roadways, more carols could be heard playing. This time it was still Oh Holy Night, being sung by Mariah Carey.
At one section of the park, a ping-pong game was on while loud grunting could be heard from the health enthusiasts, continuing their paces, while others were still navigating the track.
A Caucasian male and a black woman stood in a passionate embrace for several minutes before they held hands and headed in the direction of the new Marriott Hotel. A man and a woman, occupying the park benches, watched them leave.
But it was the two women who sat along the lighted walkway from the statues who were most interesting. They were sitting there for more than half-hour, talking, laughing and often resting their heads against each other's shoulder. It was clear from their slight touches and lingering looks that they were more than friends, and that was quickly confirmed.
One was a 43-year-old financial professional and the other a 22-year-old university student.
'J', as she identified herself, was the older of the two. She said the university student, 'D', was the one who made the initial move after she interned at her workplace.
PLACE OF ROMANCE
"From then we fell in love. We come here because no one bothers us and, plus, we are just enjoying the early Christmas breeze," declared J.
Nearby, a hustler, clearly in breach of the no-hustling rule, shouted "Big woman, come take a picture," in a hope to make a few dollars for the photograph which is ready minutes after it is taken.
Near one of several beautifully blooming bougainvilleas, a mother scolded a young child for running on the grass. "Jesus, man, I told you not to run on the grass. It's wet," said the mother.
"But you are talking on the phone and don't want to play," challenged the child.
She grabbed his hands and said, "Time to get home."
Since it opened it gates in July 2002, Emancipation Park has become the 'out of many, one park', embracing persons from uptown, downtown, and rural Jamaica.
Hundreds of persons have basked in its physical beauty; taken shade from the many trees; met friends not seen for years; watched hundreds of brides taking wedding photos; watched children playing from park benches, or just close their eyes and absorb the sounds.