'Fireworks on the Waterfront' benefits many
The dawning of a new year can be a source of hope or trepidation for individuals, often depending on their financial situation. Since 1999, 'Fireworks on the Waterfront', a venture of the Urban Development Corporation (UDC), with its myriad economic spin-offs, has guaranteed for many a vendor, a happy new year.
Approaching its 15th staging, it has become a tradition of the event to facilitate, in a formal way, the vending of food and craft items, to cater to the needs of the massive crowd which converges on the downtown Kingston waterfront each year to view the fireworks spectacular.
For Suzette Martin, a full-time food vendor, compared to other events and venues at which she has operated, "there is none like this one! It is family-oriented [and it] gives us a major boost in our pockets."
Martin has operated a food stall at Fireworks on the Waterfront since its inception and looks forward to it each year. Occurring in the festive season and just before the reopening of schools, she said the timing is perfect. "This really helps us out a lot because we have school fees to pay, we have things to take care of; this gives us a boost to go into what we normally do."
When the event was introduced to the Jamaican calendar, Martin was among the thousands who were caught up in its novelty. "The very first year, it was very exciting. Even my kids at home were saying, 'Mommy we want to come down there because we have never seen anything like this before'."
The organisers of Fireworks on the Waterfront had only intended it as a one-off staging to mark the momentous transition into a brand new millennium. However, it created such a sensation that on December 31, 2000, persons gathered on the waterfront to await another grand show. To their dismay, none had been planned. The UDC took note and remedied the situation, committing to making it a yearly tradition.
At the second staging in 2001, Martin was again on board as a vendor, selling corn, soup, snacks and other items.
Over the years, Fireworks on the Waterfront has grown exponentially, with the audience on location peaking at an estimated 300,000 persons. The UDC has been keen on keeping the event family-friendly and accessible to persons from all walks of life. This has led to the show being the largest free show of its nature in the Caribbean.
This year the event, which will be held under the theme 'Celebrate Good Times', will pay tribute to the first anniversary of the UNESCO designation of Kingston as a Creative Music City. Starting from 2 p.m. on December 31, it will feature an eclectic combination of activities inclusive of a Fun and Food Village, where patrons can enjoy Jamaican cuisine complemented by the excitement of a Kiddies' Fun Village and Vending Village, providing a captivating experience for the entire family.
In addition, there will be a street party and stage show, which will feature entertainers ranging from the budding to some of the island's most accomplished artistes. The show will then crescendo close to midnight for the new year countdown, followed by a magnificent fireworks display at midnight.