Fifty, flawless & fabulous!
Chester Francis-Jackson, Contributor
Fifty is definitely the new magic number. And this is the year to celebrate the big 50, daahlings! What a year it has been so far!
Well, it started off with a bang in February, as Alsia Aris-Wilkinson began 2012 with a milestone celebration! She and hubby, Dr Curtis Wilkinson, had their Florida mansion all elegantly decked out and dressed to kill for the dinner that proved the affair of the season. It was an elegant black and/or white affair, and, let me tell you, it was simply elegant!
The mansion itself was the perfect venue. Friends and family flew in from all corners of the globe to join in the celebration, and luvs, it buzzed like everybody's business. The theme was one of elegance and glamour, and so it was! Of course, the entertainment was strictly Jamaican at its finest, as was the cuisine.
Matriarch Ruby Aris, siblings Karl Aris and his beautiful wife Beverly, Joy Aris, Lorna Aris, and other members of the Aris clan all out for the big do were the Nubian beauty Grace Butterfield who flew in from Kingston; Guy Onfroy, Thadene Edwards, and long-time friend Angella (Holgate) Murry.
Then came March, it was Angella (Holgate) Murry's time to shine, and she turned it up! And so she did! Her affair could not be held in one night nor be marked in just a single event! No chile! It couldn't even be contained in one month! And so, Ms Murry's affair began on a Thursday night at the end of March 2012, and lasted all weekend until early April, on a Monday afternoon! It started first with greetings at the Florida residence of her sister, Yvonne 'Junie' Holgate, and this affair was a throwback to early Jamaican days. This was all about the goat head soup dears, as friends gathered to hail the queen!
Friday morning was the day of departure as the birthday girl, the doting and beaming hubby Arnett Murry, matriarch Mrs Holgate along with Angella's siblings Yvonne Holgate, Maureen Holgate, Annette Holgate, cousins, nieces and nephews, and friends: Glamour-puss Moya Hamilton; the fab Dahlia Bell; the elegant Alsia Aris, and the lovely Faith Campbell, plus a number of others, totalling some 50 people, set sail for The Bahamas!
Luvs, this is where the party people outdid themselves! Mind you, everyone was very mindful of the fact that Angella and hubby are staunch Christians, that they are intended to uphold their beliefs in the highest regard, and they got the respect they rightly deserved!
Well, all that being said, with the words of big sister Junie in mind, making sure that "unoo nuh spoil mi good-good sistah", the party people set out to party!
With nowhere else to go and not wishing to be anywhere else, people partied on chile! It was rocking like that! The entire four-day event culminated with this new addition to the '50, fierce, flawless and fabulous' club, regal and resplendent in gold lamé tearing up as her niece read a letter addressed to the birthday queen from her one and only child, Tina Charles.
And speaking of whom, one of the greatest female athletes, perhaps the best female contemporary basketball player of award-winning fame and hall of famer, the fabulous Tina Charles, made her Olympic debut with Team USA and totally annihilated all the competition!
Was it not said earlier on that this is the best year to be 50? She brought home gold, daahlings! And being the humble and wonderful daughter that she is, proceeded to adorn her proud mom's neck with the gold medal!
And, of course, Jamaica once again, became part of the international conversation as Usain 'Lightning' Bolt sprinted into the consciousness of the entire world! So did all the other Jamaican athletes who medalled in their sports. Great year to be 50 indeed!
50th parties all around
So Jamaica celebrates 50 years of Independence! Parties all around in every nation where there lives a proud Jamaican! It's been like that this year! From Canada, England, to Down Under, Jamaicans have been outdoing themselves this year. Party here, party there, party everywhere! But the spectacular Gala celebration in the country's capital, Kingston, remains unrivalled for sure. Here in NY, the 50th was marked by special church services and the annual Independence Ball, and pumpkins, how!
Well, this was no ordinary ball! This was celebrating Jamaica's 50th in NYC! Fabulous, fierce, and fit at 50. Jamaica was the glue that brought people from all walks of life across the diaspora, gathering at the famed New York City Hilton Hotel for the celebration of the 50th Independence. And luvs, fabulously so!
Honey, there was no one from uptown, nor downtown, or anyone from 'bend down plaza' that night! Everyone there was 100 per cent bona fide Jamaican, and so it was! Everyone came out to see and be seen in honour of Jamaica's 50th! Everyone was dressed in fine form! Women of all ages were decked out in gowns - sequinned and otherwise, long and flowing, but gowns they were! Some were in their full Jamaican colours, nails, glasses, purses to match and all, with the men at their sartorial best, all resplendent in their tuxes and then some!
Dears, aam-a-telling-you, it was fierce like that!
This was an affair to remember! Oversubscribed as it was, it proved quite a challenge for the wait staff, but dears, there was going to be no raining on Jamaica's 50th Independence celebration parade. So it was all systems go and then some, for the burgeoning crowd!
And so it was with Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, being the guest of honour.
And it being that kind of a party, guests simply worked the crowd, to see and be seen. So y'all know 'the ting tun up', as among those spotted were: Ray Nelson; the divine Devan Oates; the lovely Rose Green; Dr Peggy Barnett; the affable Conrad McCook; the gorgeous Marcia Elliott; the dapper George Frazier, among many more!
There was an apt and rapturous moment of solemnity when the national anthems of both the United States and Jamaica were sung. This certainly evoked many fond memories and there were some teary eyes noted. The ball got under way after much fanfare and tremendous applause when Prime Minister The Most Honourable Portia Simpson Miller took to the microphone and extended greetings to all. It was a poignant moment as she paid respects to all, encouraged the Jamaican nationals, and proudly spoke of the journey of those who are torch-bearers in their respective fields for Jamaica; with honourees that night being Dr Basil K. Knight, OD, and warrior-woman trailblazer, Dr Una Clarke, CD.
With all formalities out of the way, dining completed, people were ready to party and show off their moves, and travel down musical memory lane in dance! Luvs, you know no band does these events better than the Fab Five Band! And dears, did they bring it on!
Luvs, they moved through the early years of Jamaican music, with ska bringing the house to its feet, but really rocked the house with the Independence 'chunes' from back in the days, and yes, you know it, when they played This Is The Land of My Birth by Eric Donaldson, everyone was, for that grand moment, transported right back there a yawd! Stilettos were put aside, to facilitate some hard-core dancing, and people, especially ladies, simply danced the night away, and how!
Talk about having a fab time! Dears, this was it, as songbird Gem Myers with her pitch-perfect voice, leading the way for the revellers, and saw people dancing until the wee hours of the morning and then some!
- Dr Cherise Francis-Windle (New York) contributed to this article.