August 24, 2012
Vincentians in the U.S.A. organize historic event

by Maxwell Haywood Fri, Aug 24, 2012

“This is an excellent beginning to a great event”. That was the popular sentiment expressed by the thousands of Vincentians who gathered on Saturday, August 18, 2012, in Heckscher State Park in Long Island, New York, to celebrate the inaugural Vincy Day USA.{{more}}

Despite the heavy rains earlier in the day, which threatened to spoil the event, Vincentians were not deterred. No rain could stop this event from being a success. Vincentians were determined to make it one of the best events ever organized by Vincentians in the U.S.A. It was a tremendous display of cultural diplomacy!

More than five mega buses of Vincentians, and many who travelled by car, came to ensure that they did not miss this historic event. They journeyed from various parts of New York State, Pennsylvania, Boston, Washington, D.C., New Jersey and Canada. Vincentians of all ages were present, including hundreds of children. The participation of the children holds great significance for the long-term strength of the Vincentian diaspora and for the sustainable development of the Vincentian diaspora community in the U.S.A.

One teenage girl, who was born in the USA and whose parents are Vincentians, said: “I feel special today because of this Vincy Day event and with so many Vincentians having fun. My parents are always teaching me to respect St Vincent and the Grenadines, and now I see why my parents want me to love St Vincent and the Grenadines. I do not want to ever miss this event in the future.”

The event was opened by master of ceremonies Ulric “Soca” Jones, Jr., who was assisted in that task by Atiba “Tiba” Williams. National anthems of the U.S.A and St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) were sung by Sharon Jones, and the Garifuna version of SVG’s national anthem was sung by the Vincie Cultural Group of Brooklyn. The event was blessed by the Deputy Consul General, Edson Augustus, who delivered the prayer. Consul General Selmon Walters made remarks in which he highlighted, among other issues, the historic nature of the first Vincy Day USA. New York State Senator Eric Adams, also made remarks, in which he stressed the need for an international airport for SVG, and he encouraged Vincentians to vote for Democratic presidential candidate Barrack Obama in November.

Remarks were also brought by Laverne Gumbs, president of the Council of St Vincent and the Grenadines Organizations U.S.A (COSAGO) who highlighted the idea that the Vincy Day U.S.A event is good for reuniting Vincentians in the U.S.A, and she went further to point out the networking value of Vincy Day USA.

The social bonds among Vincentians in the U.S.A were made stronger as a result of Vincy Day USA, and this will do much to build a stronger community of Vincentians in the diaspora. In turn, this strengthening of these bonds in the diaspora means that SVG will ultimately benefit.

For many years, people in the Vincentian diaspora have been talking about the vision of organizing such an event. Most recently, Ulric “Soca” Jones, Jr strongly insisted that this vision become a reality. He went about it with firm determination by approaching the Consul General of St Vincent and the Grenadines in New York, who agreed to support the event. The Consul General then pulled together a team of Vincentians to assist in organizing the inaugural Vincy Day USA. As the word got out that the event was going to take place, it became the buzz word in the Vincentian Diaspora in the USA.

On Saturday, the vision became a reality, with the smell of all sorts of food penetrating the atmosphere, as Vincentians lit up various fire sites and cooked food on the spot, while others brought their dishes and drinks from their homes. Pavillion 2 of Heckscher State Park came alive, not only with the strong smell of food, but with the laughter of children playing together, and also with the green, yellow, and blue which are the colours of SVG’s national flag. Adding to those elements that brought more life to the park were the various cultural arts performances from the Century U.S.A. Steel Orchestra, Vincie Cultural Group of Brooklyn, Andean Charles, Roland Bowen, Brigo, I -Madd, Groovy D, Bob MC, Brother Dan, Jakie, Super Dex, Flappa, Garfield Palmer, Philly D, Phill Pat, Curtis C, Lively, Scorcher, and Winston Soso.

Based on the comments of Vincentians who attended the event, it is very clear that the years ahead will be even greater than this year’s event. Expectations are already high for next year’s Vincy Day USA, which should reach “higher heights” never seen before in the Vincentian diaspora.