JIS News

The Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) has declared yesterday’s (August 6) Independence Grand Gala a major success, particularly in light of the response of Jamaicans to the event.
More than 35,000 people watched the spectacle from inside the National Stadium, while projectors were set up in the National Arena to accommodate over 6,000 more. The event was also carried live on local stations and streamed live on the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) website.
Jamaicans were treated to songs, dances and a bike display. The first performance took the audience through the history of Jamaica, with Amina Blackwood-Meeks as the storyteller. Later, the crowd got into a frenzy reliving festival songs of the past with the noise inside the stadium reaching a crescendo as the crowd sang along to Roy Rayon’s ‘Give Thanks and Praises’.
Several persons said they were already looking forward to the next Gala. One patron, Andrea Josephs, said she brought her children to celebrate the holiday at the stadium, so they could experience Jamaica’s culture.
Bandmaster for the Jamaica Military Band, Alfred Shawn Hird, said he was happy about the return of the festival celebrations. “The stadium is quite full and this is what we want for our Jamaican society; people to come here and enjoy our own national heritage by participation from all different parts of Jamaica,” he said.
Mr. Hird also noted that the ticketing system had improved over last year, as it was more organised. “Even myself who was trying to get tickets for the military persons, it was very tight. There were some prerequisite forms that you had to fill out and that was quite good this year,” he explained. However, he felt the experience would be further improved if tickets were made available earlier.
Describing the event as the “people’s gala,” Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Olivia Grange, said “people are enjoying themselves and they are bonding and uniting and the spirit of togetherness is certainly being generated here tonight.”
Turning to the Western Gala, Miss Grange said she was very happy that persons in the western parishes were also able to enjoy the festivities without having to come into Kingston.
“It’s good that we keep the Western Gala, because people would come in from the west to this gala and we would have nowhere to put them,” she said.
Chairman of the JCDC, Hugh Nash, told JIS News that he was happy with the turnout and thanked corporate Jamaica for chipping in to help cover the cost. However, Mr. Nash said a final cost for staging the event has not yet been calculated.

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