WASHINGTON — Jamaicans residing in Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Philadelphia, USA have moved into celebration mode, with a number of official events scheduled to mark the 49th anniversary of the country's independence planned for the next three weeks.
August 4 – 21, the Embassy of Jamaica in Washington D.C. under the leadership of Her Excellency Ambassador Audrey Marks, will be engaged in a number of activities supported by leading Jamaican organisations.
On Thursday, August 4, an open house will be held at the Embassy, between Noon and 4 p.m. It will provide an opportunity for the public to meet the Ambassador and other members of staff. It will also showcase Embassy activities and promote various aspects of Jamaican culture.
On Independence Day, Saturday, August 6, two organizations will stage Independence Balls – the Jamaica Association of Maryland (JAM) and "Team Jamaica Bickle", Philadelphia chapter.
JAM's Ball, under the distinguished patronage of Ambassador Marks, will be at the Martins West Conference Centre, Baltimore, and is expected to attract about 400 Jamaicans and friends of Jamaica. Baltimore's Mayor, Stephanie Blake, will be the guest speaker.
This year, JAM will present the Marcus Garvey UNIA Award for outstanding educational and community service to Professor of Biology at Morgan State University, Dr. Joseph Whittaker, while U.S. congressman Elijah Cummins will be conferred with honorary membership for his support of the Jamaican and Caribbean communities and Nicolas Nathan for his outstanding support for JAM.
In Philadelphia, "Team Jamaica Bickle" will stage their second annual Independence Ball at the Double-Tree Hotel in downtown Philadelphia. The organization will honour Jamaica's outgoing Honorary Consul in Pennsylvania, Dr. Alston Meade and former Consul General to New York, Dr. Basil Bryan for outstanding contribution to the Jamaican community in Philadelphia.
The Dumbarton Chapel at Howard University's School of Law is the venue for the annual Service of Thanksgiving on Sunday, August 7, starting at 11 a.m. General Secretary of the Jamaica Baptist Union, the Rev. Karl Johnson, will deliver the sermon. Ambassador Marks will give the official welcome and deliver Prime Minister Bruce Golding's Independence Message.
Members of the diplomatic corps, Washington D.C.'s Mayor, Vincent Gray, and members and representatives of the U.S. Congress will also attend the service.
On Saturday, August 13, the Jamaica Nationals Association (JNA) will celebrate with their annual gala at the L'Enfant Plaza Hotel in downtown Washington D.C. This calendar event will be attended by members of the diplomatic corps, Mayor Vincent Gray and members and representatives of the U.S. Congress, the Jamaican community and friends of Jamaica.
Popular Channel 7 anchor, Maureen Bunyan, and D.C.'s Michael Campbell will serve as Masters of Ceremony. Patrons will be entertained by saxophonist Walter Tates Jr., Kenny Lurlou and the All Stars Reggae Band and DJ Paul Mack. Proceeds will benefit JNA's Student Scholarship Programme, which provides books for students in the USA and Jamaica.
On Sunday, August 14, JAM will hold its annual Independence Thanksgiving Service at the Baltimore Central New Testament Church of God, commencing at 5 p.m.
The curtains come down on the festivities on Sunday, August 21, with the annual cultural day, staged by JAM at the Lake, Clifton Park in Baltimore, Maryland commencing at Noon. The day will feature activities for the entire family.
"We are continuing the tradition of sharing the Jamaican spirit in the years to come, and we encourage all of our friends to embrace this year's theme, 'The Journey Continues', and join us in the upcoming celebrations," said Ambassador Marks.