The Empire State Building lit up in the colours of the flag of SVG (left). At right is Consul General Rondy McIntosh at the flag raising ceremony at Bowling Green
News
November 4, 2022
Lighting of the Empire State Building brought tears to eyes of Vincentians – Consul General

When the lights on the Empire State Building were turned on, displaying the colours of the national flag of St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), the dozens of Vincentians who had gathered to witness the spectacle spontaneously began to sing the national anthem.

“Without anybody prompting anybody, they just started singing the national anthem. I saw tears coming from people’s eyes as we stared at the iconic Empire State building creating history for us,” Rondy McIntosh, this country’s Consul General to the United States told SEARCHLIGHT yesterday as he described the scene in Midtown Manhattan on Independence Day, October 27.

McIntosh, who was appointed to the post in August 2022, said after everything St Vincent and the Grenadines had gone through over the past few years, he wanted to do something special in honour of our country’s 43rd anniversary of Independence.

Part of the audience at Bowling Green, Lower Manhattan, New York

“I sought within myself something we can do to lift the spirits of Vincentians. To reinvigorate that sense of pride and belonging and also to put us on the national stage, so that we are recognized as an independent nation and not a part of any other nation.”

In collaboration with the office of the Mayor of New York city, a flag rising ceremony was organized to take place at Bowling Green, a public park in the Financial District of Lower Manhattan, New York, from 1:30 p.m. on October 27.

McIntosh said as far as he is aware, it is the first time a flag raising ceremony has been organized in New York on the occasion of the anniversary of Independence.

Mayor Eric Adams speaking at the flag raising ceremony

In addition to Vincentians proudly dressed in blue, gold and green, this event was attended by Mayor of New York Eric Adams, who was presented with a Calvert Jones painting titled: “Welcome to New York – Bridges, Dreams and Liberty”. In his address, Edams declared October 27 ‘National Heritage Day of St. Vincent and the Grenadines’.

Several commissioners from the offices of the Governor and Mayor, including Commissioner Jeannette Moy from the Governor’s office; Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs Manuel Castro from the Mayor’s Office and Commissioner of International Affairs Edward Mermelstein from the Mayor’s Office were also in attendance. Arthur Piccolo, Chairman of the Bowling Green Association was also present. The officials also gave short addresses.

“By the reports from the Bowling Green Chairman, it was the best day they have had there, thus far. They have had several flag raisings, and the one for St Vincent [and the Grenadines] was the best he has seen; the best attendance and in terms of the energy and the package, the considers it to be the best they have had there in a long time,” McIntosh said.

Later that evening, all eyes were on the Empire State Building, where at exactly 5:58 pm, blue gold and green lights were turned on the 102-storey building.

Mayor of NYC Eric Adams and Consul General Rondy McIntosh with their heads tied with bandanas in national colours

According to McIntosh, the area in Midtown Manhattan was so crowded with Vincentians, there was hardly any room for persons to walk on the sidewalk.

The lights remained on until 2:00 a.m. on Friday, October 28.

The cost to the Government to have the lights turned on was “Absolutely nothing, zero,” the consul general said.

“It is just by using diplomatic channels, emails, calls, filling the requisite forms online and for whatever reason, unexplained, we were given the nod of approval,” McIntosh shared.

The St Vincent and the Grenadines flag flying at Bowling Green

Other events held in New York for the 43rd anniversary of Independence were a church service held on October 23 at St Mark’s Methodist Church in Brooklyn and a sold out Independence Gala at Russo’s on the Bay on October 30.

The church service and gala were organized by Brooklyn-based Council of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Organizations, U.S.A., Inc. (COSAGO), the umbrella Vincentian group in the United States.

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