Conversations flowed freely, hugs and kisses were exchanged, childhood friends rekindled old ties, and food and spirits were bountiful, as thousands gathered in Queen’s, New York last weekend for the annual Trelawny reunion picnic.
The buses and cars began rolling into the Anthony Wayne Recreation Area at 7:00 a.m., and by noon, the grounds of the tree-lined park near Bear Mountain, was carpeted with blankets, picnic tables and barbecue grills, as former residents of Trelwany and the historic town of Falmouth, invaded the area.
They journeyed from as far as Australia, Canada, California and Jamaica to attend the annual event organised by Friends of Trelawny Association (FOTA). It was the first time the picnic was being held at Anthony Wayne. The event was moved from Rockland Lake in Nyack, because it had outgrown that facility.
President of FOTA, Michael Wattkis, could not hide his pleasure at the large turnout. “Can you imagine that 27 years ago about four families from Falmouth gathered in Rockland Lake to have a picnic at Rockland Lake Park? And 27 years later, we have thousands gathering.”
He noted that the event was one of camaraderie, with “everyone bringing their own food and drink and freely sharing with each other, whether you are friend or stranger.”
At Anthony Wayne, 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.
Falmouth Mayor Colin Gager, (stooping centre) shares a moment with residents of Rio Bueno, who attend the annual Friends of Trelawny Association picnic held on May 24 at the Anthony Wayne Recreation Area in New York.
“What is interesting here is that we are seeing a lot of second and third general Trelawnyities, 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. Wattkis pointed out.
He noted that Trelawny is the only parish in the Diaspora that brings together so many former residents from a Jamaican parish.
Falmouth Mayor, Colin Gager, who travelled to New York with three of his councillors to attend the reunion, congratulated FOTA on the staging of this 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 council are pledging our support to work with you to see how the parish can benefit from an event like this,” he stated.
“It is amazing. You have thousands and thousands of former Trelawny residents here, some of whom I have not seen in years. We must see how we can have this reunion held in Trelawny one year. It will give the residents an opportunity to see the developments that are taking place, to invest in their parish and bring home the younger generations to see where their parents came from,” he said.
The picnic was the culmination of a weekend of reunion activities that started on May 22 in Brooklyn with a cocktail reception at the Fisheye Bar and Grill, followed by a business and investment symposium May 23 in Queen’s, which focused on investment opportunities in the parish.
The parish of Trelawny is expected to see an injection of US$30 billion in investments over the next 10 years.