Guest Relations Manager Alicia Lynch (third left, front), Entertainment Manager Christ 'Crazy' Foster (top right), and teacher Horace McKellop (back) with the William Knibb Memorial High School dancers after they performed at the Sunset Jamaica Grande Hotel on Independence Day.
At left: A flag of Jamaica made of fruits attracted much attention during the Independence weekend celebrations at the Sunset Jamaica Grande Resort Hotel in Ocho Rios. The flag is made of squash for the yellow, guineps for the green, and ackee seeds and nuts for the black.
Home for Independence (from left) Joseph Facey, Glynis Christian, Andrea Williams, Barrington Williams, Valrean Matthews, and Doreth Facey.
Dancers from the William Knibb Memorial High School perform for guests at the Sunset Jamaica Grande Hotel on Independence Day, Monday, August 6.
Carl Gilchrist, Gleaner Writer
OCHO RIOS, St Ann:
ON A day when Usain Bolt received his gold medal for his 100-metre record run in the Olympics, students from his alma mater, William Knibb Memorial High, entertained guests at the Sunset Jamaica Grande Hotel in Ocho Rios. The majority were home celebrating Jamaica's 50th year of Independence, and, indeed, Bolt's success.
It appears that thousands of Jamaicans from the diaspora spent the Independence weekend at hotels along the island's north coast, revelling in activities to mark the nation's golden jubilee.
The vast majority of guests at the 730-room Jamaica Grande were Jamaicans from the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada, who came specifically for the Independence period.
The 16 students performed the popular maypole and quadrille dances before rushing off with their teacher and choreographer Horace McKellop to Falmouth, in their home parish of Trelawny, to perform at Independence activities there.
Glynis Christian, from Orange, New Jersey, who has been living in the United States for 28 years, enjoyed the performance and danced along while the students performed.
Although Christian has been returning to Jamaica on a regular basis, this occasion meant more.
"I was born right here in the garden parish of St Ann. I've been abroad about 28 years now. I'm here at least three times per year; this is my land. I'm a born Jamaican and I've been waiting for this momentous time just to come and celebrate!" said an excited Christian.
"I just want to take this opportunity to say how far we have come. We have come through many trials, many troubles, and I stand proud as a Jamaican today to see exactly how far we have advanced," Christian added.
What's so special about the Independence? "For me, it's the people, the mingling, the networking, the food, the sunshine - everything! I just love this land!" she exclaimed.
ENJOYING THE VIBE
Barrington Williams and his wife, Andrea, also made the trip from New Jersey.
Said Williams: "I was born November 1962 in Kingston, so I'll be 50 this year, and I'm enjoying myself. Everything is copasetic! I'm enjoying the Olympics, seeing Bolt running and winning again, Olympic record, great! And 'The Beast' - can't forget 'The Beast'!"
Guest relations manager at Sunset Jamaica Grande, Alicia Lynch, said it was a great weekend at the Grande.
"It has been absolutely amazing! It's been buzzing; it's been fever pitch. Guests are happy - everybody decked out in their (Jamaica) colours, guests and staff. It has just been an amazing weekend with the Olympics and now today to culminate it for Independence," said Lynch.
To close the Independence celebrations, the hotel staged its Sunset Jamaica Grande Gala, featuring Peter Lloyd, from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m.
PHOTOS BY CARL GILCHRIST