THE 2021 National Nine Mornings Festival got off to its usual 4:00 a.m start on Thursday, December 16 at the new Victoria Park venue.
But the turn out by the public was disappointing to say the least.
However, the chairman of the National Nine Mornings Committee, Orande “Bomani” Charles told SEARCHLIGHT they were not totally caught by surprise.
“We did anticipate [with]the change of venue, the fact that it is a vaccinated event, those would have an impact on the turnout. We were not surprised,” he said later that morning.
“ What we are hoping to do as word gets around that the venue is safe, that the persons who are in fact vaccinated in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, about 20,000 of them, would join us at the venue as the days go by,” he added.
“So we anticipated a slow start but we are anticipating a buildup as we continue our promotion. We are happy with the online views, it being a sort of virtual event as well. That sort of exceeded our expectations as well for the first morning.”
With the COVID-19 pandemic now being a part of life in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), a number of activities, including worship and teaching instruction, have been making greater use of online platforms.
And organisers of the national Christmas festival have also had to go virtual enabling persons to view as the events unfold without the usual crowd participation.
“The way we designed it… it really was meant to be a virtual event that we invited a live audience who met the criteria set out by the Ministry of Health, so we can have a live audience at a virtual event,”Charles explained.
The indigenous Nine Mornings Festival is now said to be the most popular event on the local calendar of events which perhaps dates back to the early 1900’s, according to historians.
Prizes are being awarded this year for the best Christmas outfit, best face mask, best-decorated pushcart, and best lit bicycle, and there will also be a ‘Bring Yo Song and Come’ singing competition.
This component, according to the chairman was introduced for persons who are considered “new emerging talent to give them an opportunity to perform so persons who are able to see them whether it is artistes, producers… could help them develop their potential”.
The 2021 festival is a fully vaccinated event and Charles said officials at the Ministry of Health “are trying their best to work with us within the parameters of safety. Covid is posing a challenge and we are trying our best to work around it.”
The festival is being held this year under the theme: “A Festival of Lights – Hope in a Darkened World”.