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Childhood friends rekindled old ties, conversations flowed freely, and food and spirits were bountiful, as thousands gathered at the Anthony Wayne Park in Bear Mountain, Rockland County, New York, on Sunday, May 31, for the 29th annual Friends of Trelawny Association (FOTA) reunion picnic.
The buses and cars began rolling into the Anthony Wayne Recreation Area at 6:00 a.m., and by noon, the grounds of the tree-lined park near Bear Mountain were carpeted with blankets, picnic tables and barbecue grills, as former residents of Trelawny and the historic town of Falmouth converged.
They had journeyed from as far as Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Jamaica, to attend the annual event organised by FOTA. It was the second time the picnic was being held at Anthony Wayne, and drew a crowd of just over 7,000 former residents and friends.
FOTA chairman, Patrick Beckford expressed pleasure at the large turnout. “Can you imagine that 29 years ago about four families from Falmouth gathered in Rockland Lake Park to have a picnic? And 29 years later, we have thousands gathering,” he remarked.
He noted that the event was one of camaraderie, with everyone bringing their own food and drink, freely sharing with friends and strangers alike.
At the park, picnic goers had the opportunity to, not only share in the harmony, but the younger generation also participated in soccer, volleyball, basketball, sack races, and egg-and-spoon races.
“What is interesting here is that we are seeing a lot of second and third generation Trelawnyites, who look forward to coming to the picnic. This gives them an opportunity to learn about their heritage and what makes the parish so special to their parents and friends,” Mr. Beckford pointed out.
He noted that Trelawny brings together the largest contingent of former parishioners in the Diaspora annually.
Falmouth’s Mayor, Colin Gager, who travelled to New York with a seven-member delegation to attend the reunion, congratulated FOTA on the staging of the annual event. “The coming together of former residents of Trelawny living abroad at a picnic like this, speaks volumes for the parish and your organisation. We at the Trelawny Parish Council are pledging our support to work with you to see how the parish can benefit from an event like this,” he stated.
The picnic was the culmination of a weekend of reunion activities that started on Friday, May 28 with a fete at the Chef Orchid Restaurant, followed by a business and investment symposium May 29 at the JFK Holiday Inn in Queen’s, which focused on investment opportunities in the parish.