It was Grand!
Gala ‘tun up’
With the National Stadium at its 35,000 capacity, and thousands more jostling to gain entrance to the venue prompting fire marshalls to instruct the security forces to lock the gates by 8:30 pm, the turnout for the Jamaica 60 Grand Gala was beyond the wildest expectations.
The largest cultural showcase held annually, this year, in celebration of Jamaica’s diamond jubilee, the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport went above and beyond to deliver a show-stopping event that was beamed to hundreds of thousands globally. On the YouTube pages of the government-owned PBC Jamaica, by Sunday morning, there were close to 175,000 views and counting. The Jamaica Cultural Development Commission’s page had 44,000 views.
The promise of a “technology-driven, culturally appropriate [event] appealing to a wide cross-section of people but with a youth-centred appeal and focus” was kept and without a doubt, the 300-drone display which lit up the Jamaican sky on Independence Day is one that will long be remembered. For 10 glorious minutes, 300 drones dazzled as iconic Jamaican symbols and trailblazers such as Miss Lou, Usain Bolt and Bob Marley were brought to life in spectacular fashion, brightly illuminating the sky as ‘Oooh!’ and ‘Aaahs!’ of appreciation resounded inside the venue.
Standing in awe were those on the outside whose eyes were fixed heavenward as they forgot in those minutes their main aim - to get inside the venue - and instead stopped to appreciate the spectacle and simply considered themselves lucky enough to have witnessed firsthand this historic, first-in-the Caribbean display.
“What a great celebration we had at the Diamond Jubilee Grand Gala at the National Stadium on Saturday!” Minister of Culture, Olivia Grange, tweeted.
Also numbered among the highs were the military display involving paratroopers from Guyana who were specially dispatched to wish Jamaica Happy Independence; La Lee teaching Leggo di Bird to Prime Minister Holness; the Jamaican colours proudly on display at the National Stadium with almost everyone repping the colours of the flag; the energy of the performers; the honouring of music icons Derrick Morgan and Sanchez and, of course, the fireworks display.
Also worthy of mention are the truly Jamaican hashtags used to mobilise social media: #Jamaica60; #WeLiveWhereYouVacay; #AsAGoodGyal; #NawmalALie; #RightTru; #IgnitingANationForGreatness.
In launching Jamaica 60 in Canada, Minister Grange had said, “Let us commit not only to a celebration with a fire burning in our hearts that will provide energy and warmth to our people but also to the building of our nation so that everyone will see Jamaica as the place of choice to live, work, do business and raise families. Indeed, when the black, green and gold standard was raised on that night of August 6, 1962, Jamaicans everywhere felt a fire ignited in their body, mind and spirit as our nation took a bold step on the journey to greatness. This is the fire we are determined to re-ignite in Jamaica 60. This is the natural mystic that is Jamaica. And that is why, amid the fight against a global pandemic and our decision to surge forward through the creation of corridors of resilience, we decided on the Jamaica 60 theme – Jamaica 60: Re-igniting a Nation for Greatness.”
She had added somewhat prophetically, “It will be fireworks when we ‘tun it up’.”