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MIAMI — Jamaicans in South Florida are gearing to celebrate the nation's 49th anniversary of Independence across the tri-county area – Dade, Broward and Palm Beach.

The planned events include a number of cultural presentations, such as church services, galas and concerts to commemorate the event.

On Saturday, July 30, patrons will celebrate at the annual Grand Independence Ball to be held at the Hyatt Regency Bonaventure Hotel in Weston.  Guest speaker will be Professor Jane Cross, Shepard Broad Law Centre at the Nova Southeastern University in Davie.  Proceeds will benefit needy children of Jamaica and the United States.

Parishioners at the Kendall Community Church of God in Miami will stage the fifth annual Jamaica Independence Gospel Service on Sunday, July 31.   

Later that day, the annual cultural performance, 'Culturama 2011 Mello-go-Round', takes place at the Coral Springs Centre for the Arts in Coral Springs.  The event will showcase a variety of Jamaican traditional folk art forms that include dance, song and drama performed by Jamaica Festival award winning students who will be joined by several local entertainers from South Florida.

On Independence Day, Saturday, August 6, hundreds of Jamaicans and friends in the Diaspora are expected to join in celebration for the second annual Jamaica Flag Day to be held at the Lauderhill Sport Complex on Oakland Boulevard.  At a flag-raising ceremony, officials of that City will present a proclamation to the Consul General to pay respect to the positive impact demonstrated by Jamaicans in the Diaspora.  Lauderhill, a suburb of Fort Lauderdale in Broward County is home to one of the largest population of Jamaicans in Florida State.

Minister of Education, Hon. Andrew Holness is expected to be special guest at the Premiere Independence Ball to take place later that day at the Renaissance Hotel in Plantation.

As is customary, the Consulate General of Jamaica in Miami will host the annual Ecumenical Church Service to be held on Sunday, August 7, beginning at 4:00 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church of Fort Lauderdale, downtown Fort Lauderdale.

Guest preacher will be Bishop Delford Davis, Pastor of the Power of Faith Ministries in Portmore, St. Catherine. The officiating Minister will be the Reverend Karl Francis, Pastor of the Living Word Open Bible Church, Cooper City.

Consul General, Sandra Grant Griffiths will deliver the welcome remarks and will also read the Independence message from the Prime Minister, the Hon. Bruce Golding.

Proceeds from the service will benefit three outreach projects – the Power of Faith Ministries basic education programme, Food for the Poor, and the Coalition of Jamaican Alumni Associations (CJAA) in South Florida.

The evening culminates with the staging of Jamaica's 49th Independence and Cultural Celebration, which will take place at the Miramar Regional Park in Miramar.  The rich cultural explosion will feature a variety of entertainment, music and foods.

On Sunday, August 14, the Christian Awareness Association, will hold its Mass of Thanksgiving celebrating the nation's anniversary of Independence at the All Saints Catholic Church in Sunrise.  The Service will be officiated by the Reverend Father Walter Dorsey.

Other activities of celebration will take place across Florida State, including Port St. Lucie, Palm Bay, Tampa and Orlando.

By Cheryl Wynter

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