Monday August 2 was designated Jamaican Flag Day in the City of Lauderhill to honour the accomplishments and achievements of Jamaicans in the Diaspora.
The Mayor of Lauderhill, Richard Kaplan, (centre) prepares to hoist the Jamaican Flag with Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Hon. Olivia Grange
(right) and South Florida radio personality Bevon ‘Duke’ Earle (extreme
right) at the Lauderhill Sports Complex, after designating the Monday, August 2nd Jamaica Flag Day in Broward County. A large number of Jamaicans and friends in the Diaspora participated in the all-day festivities.
Later that day, a large crowd of Jamaican nationals and friends of the Diaspora cheered as they gathered to witness the flag-raising ceremony, held jointly by officials of the City Commission of Lauderhill and the Jamaican Government.
In a brief ceremony, Mayor Richard Kaplan of Lauderhill praised the greatness of the population of Jamaican Americans residing in Lauderhill. He noted that they were instrumental in strengthening the links and support systems through significant contributions and achievements to economic empowerment, civil engagement and philanthropy.
Sharing in the proud moment Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Hon. Olivia Grange, said that the historical celebration was a showing of great pride and love of country among Jamaicans and friends, even beyond the shores of the island.
In commending the organisers of the ceremony, Minister Grange expressed gratitude for the long-standing friendship and cooperation between Jamaica and the United States.
Jamaicans comprise almost a third of that city’s population of some 75,000. The city is known as “Kingston 21” because of the many migrating nationals who first settled in Lauderhill and Miami in the 1970s and 80s.
Jamaica’s Consul General, Sandra Grant Griffiths, acknowledged that the love and friendship extended to Jamaicans in the United States continues to flourish. She congratulated radio personality Bevon “Duke” Earle, of WAVS 1170 AM, for his sense of patriotism and passion while using the airwaves to enhance mutually beneficial relationships.
An elated Bevon Earle, expressed pride at the success of the event, an effort he said would “stimulate that sense of patriotism in the Jamaican community and to demonstrate unity, the love, respect and courage of our people as we celebrate Independence across the Diaspora.”
Beaming with pride, he explained to JIS News that the occasion was being celebrated at a crucial time, as the country seeks to recover from its challenges and setbacks. He also noted the resilience and tenacity of Jamaicans.
Meanwhile, the popular radio personality appealed to Jamaicans to continue to be resourceful and supportive in their commitment to the nation’s economic development.
Media Manager, at the Jamaica Tourist Board’s (JTB) Miami office, Diana Willis, made a presentation of the Jamaican publication titled “Jamaica Absolutely” to Mr. Earle for his selfless demonstration of patriotism and spirit of community across the Diaspora.
Pastor Karl Francis of Living Word Church of the Open Bible in Davie, gave the invocation, while Executive Director of the Lauderhill Regional Chamber of Commerce, John Beckford, was the Master of Ceremonies.
Several proclamations acknowledging the positive impact of Jamaicans in the Diaspora were presented to the Consul General by representatives from neighboring cities in Broward County including Sunrise, Pembroke Pines, Miramar, Lauderdale Lakes, the Broward County Board of Commissioners, and the Governor of Florida State, Charlie Crist.
Heavy storm clouds gave way to a bright evening as the festive mood continued with the sounds of Jamaican Festival songs echoed across the park, as nationals and well-wishers danced to the beat, waving flags, while others shared nostalgic moments.
“It’s a great feeling,” exclaimed Mrs. Iris Jones, an 80-year old grandmother and resident of Fort Lauderdale, as she displayed national pride in her black, green and gold attire. “I know that we are a proud people, I don’t care what people say,” she said, while swaying to the sounds of reggae music.
Several Jamaican-owed companies partnered in the symbol of camaraderie and shared in the party atmosphere. Revelers were treated to a sumptuous Jamaican favourite – curried goat and rice, provided by Carl’s Seafood Restaurant and Donna’s Restaurant, two famous Jamaican-owned eateries.
Charlie’s Pastries provided patties and other favorite Jamaican pastries. Other entities represented were: the Jamaica Information Service (JIS); the JTB; Victoria Mutual Building Society (VMBS); Jamaica National Representative Office; Grace Kennedy Remittance/Western Union, Ocho Rios Limited; Kingston Miami Trading Limited; Sandals Beaches Resorts; and Air Jamaica.
Over the years, Jamaicans in the Diaspora have contributed to the significant development of this fast-growing community, notably with a number of flagship stores such as: Charlie’s Pastries, Jerk Machine, De Jamaica Shop and Findlay’s Shipping, and other small businesses specialising in real estate, entertainment, food, and the legal and medical professions.
Three years ago, the city of Lauderhill was twinned with Jamaica’s historical city of Falmouth, the capital of Trelawny. Several initiatives between Lauderhill, and the Lauderhill Regional Chamber of Commerce (LRCC), and Falmouth have so far, resulted in a cricket delegation and trade mission and participation in Lauderhill city events. Lauderhill Commissioner and Vice Mayor, Dale Holness, is the first and only Jamaican national serving in public office on that City Commission.