Gleaner still fit at 185 - Birthday road march brings Kingston streets alive as festivities unfold in heart of capital
It was euphoria and high energy for the Big 185!
After its first publication on September 13, 1834, The Gleaner showed no signs of slowing down yesterday morning and kicked off the festivities with a grand road march in downtown Kingston.
Led by the Eastern Rangers Marching Band and Bugle Corps, decked in their smart red, blue, and white outfits and white hats, and cheerleaders accessorised with big hair bows and tricoloured pom poms for the ladies and hats for the men, the parade got under way at about 10:30 a.m.
The merry bunch, which included staff members and well-wishers, snaked their way from The Gleaner’s North Street head offices and on to East Street, then along Charles, Duke, and King streets to the main party venue at St William Grant Park.
The raging morning sun did not dilute the celebratory mood, and as the group marched along the route, persons came out of their homes and business places to watch, some joining in the parade, dancing and adding to the merriment as the band pumped up the atmosphere.
The staff were not to be outdone as they held aloft letterboards spelling ‘GLEANER 185’. They, too, engaged in a bit of dancing as they chanted, “Champion! Gleaner!”
Joe Fearon’s face lit up with glee as he stood outside a shop on King Street, watching the birthday parade.
“One hundred and eighty-five years is a long time, so wi respect it and wi honour it,” he said. “Mi glad fi know seh it’s still going on.”
Seventy-three-year-old Ivy Haye stopped along Duke Street to capture a bit of the festivities with her smartphone.
“Mi love it!” she said. “Mi daughter join St Patrick band, so mi a video it fi show her how di costume nice,” she said as she admired the Eastern Rangers Band.
Added Haye: “Mi read di Gleaner and dem going on wid good tings!”
For about 10 minutes after arriving at Parade, the road was theirs as the band performed a gospel medley, and members of the parade and onlookers joined in song.
As the party entered St William Grant Park, in the heart of downtown Kingston, all eyes were on them. The men’s domino game was on pause and for a few minutes, vendors’ sale cries ceased.
The band’s final performance of Rooted and Grounded in some respects reflected The Gleaner’s own story, one grounded in Jamaica’s present as a result of its strong history as it remains excited at the prospects of many more years to come.
The celebrations culminated at the park with more activities and giveaways as well as a concert featuring several exciting local acts.