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Welcome to Christmas! - Downtown feeling the spirit of the holiday

Published:Tuesday | December 22, 2015 | 12:00 AMAndrew Harris
Vendor parents push their children around in handcarts, searching for a sale.
Beckford Street was abuzz with activity.
The food vendor to the right of the picture hustles a last-minute sale even as these people try to board the bus.
Pillows anyone?
Police making their way into the city yesterday to make sure that peace is maintained amid Christmas shopping.

WITH JUST a day remaining before Christmas, downtown Kingston was a beehive of activities yesterday - from the handcart man to the store operators, from buses unloading to vendors yelling and shoppers trying to bargain.

As the city opened her eyes to a busy day, buses were rolling on to North and South Parade, unloading eager shoppers and tired-looking individuals off to another day of work. Store shutters were going up, the 'Welcome' and 'Open' signs switched on, and some store owners were making sure that all windows and entrance areas to the stores were clean.

Splash! Splash! "Psalm 37: Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity ... ." Vendors were sprinkling lime and water around the areas of their stalls and chanting the 37th Psalm, or, as it is commonly known to them - the higgler Psalm - while handcart drivers were shown where to unload goods. The challenge to get things ready for the busy day were real, with one vendor describing it as trying to transport water using a basket.

A clothes vendor said she lived all the way in Mandeville and had to board a bus as early as 4 a.m. with her two children, who she could not leave at home because school was on break.

Like the early bird who catches the worm, Triston Kelly from Sneakers Unlimited was not about to let anything cheat him out of his Christmas earnings.

"Well, so far, this Christmas has been slowly building up, but it's hectic trying to set up in the mornings because you don't want to miss any sales," said Kelly.

Other vendors were putting up tarpaulins in preparation for the blast of the midday sun or maybe a shower of rain. Ropes swung across the roads and clothes were displayed on the grille of the entrances to the stores.

Jeans, dresses, bras, underwear, shoes, accessories, jewellery, sorrel, and many more items were on sale.

King Street, Orange Street, Beckford Street, every street was busy, but that did not stop the drivers of Coaster buses from trying to weave their way through the traffic. The handcart drivers added to the confusion by blocking the intersections.

"Well, I am just here rushing to pick up a few things before the Christmas holiday comes upon us, seeing that it's just a few days left," said Romona Porter, a shopper.

There was hardly anywhere to turn as more buses unloaded passengers into the heart of the city. Vendor parents push their children around in handcarts, searching for a sale. Some children, themselves vendors, were competing with the adults. They were peddling bags of sweets and other items. Even the streetside hairdressers were out in their numbers, tending to their clients.

The spirit of Christmas is indeed in downtown Kingston. Except for the stench! People covered their noses from the smell of filthy water, urine, and smoke.