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Festival excites - Police say street parade incident-free

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THOUSANDS of Jamaicans, many decked out in the national colours -- black, green and gold -- yesterday braved the afternoon sun to watch the Independence street parade as it made its way along the streets of the nation's capital, Kingston.

Later thousands more filled the more than 30,000-capacity National Stadium for the Grand Gala where they were treated to a rich entertainment package by more than 4,000 performers, including costumed groups, marching bands, festival song winners and traditional groups who put on a show for the 48th anniversary of Jamaica's Independence. Thousands who could not get inside the National Stadium were accommodated inside the National Arena, where they watched the activities from large screens.

The glamour, energy and excitement of this year’s Festival celebrations are demonstrated by these performers at the Grand Gala inside the National Stadium yesterday. (Photo: Jermaine Barnaby)
A patron enjoying the Grand Gala yesterday at the National Stadium. (Photo: Jermaine Barnaby)
[Hide Description] The glamour, energy and excitement of this year’s Festival celebrations are demonstrated by these performers at the Grand Gala inside the National Stadium yesterday. (Photo: Jermaine Barnaby)
[Restore Description]

Lenora Clarke, 55, who was among the large crowd that came out to see the street parade, did not allow the heat to prevent her from walking from Half-Way-Tree square to the National Stadium as she followed the performers along the streets of the city.

Clarke, who was seen walking with her son Shawn, sipped a bag drink as she moved along.

"I had to see the parade so I don't mind the sun," she said. "All I do is drink bag juice along the way to keep me cool. Sun or no sun, I just had to be here," she said as she headed up Tom Redcam Avenue towards the National Stadium, two hours before the Grand Gala was set to begin there.

But Clarke was not alone; thousands of proud Jamaicans lined the streets from the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre where the parade began, along Hope Road, Half-Way-Tree Road, Oxford Road, Arthur Wint Drive and Tom Redcam Drive, to enjoy the celebration.

As the parade made a short stop in Half-Way-Tree square, the dance groups and marching bands gave thrilling performances to an already excited crowd. The crowd then made its way down Half-Way-Tree Road to Oxford Road, where they again made a stop outside the Emancipation Park. The stunts from motorcyclists got the large crowd even more excited, while the costumed groups made the merriment an event to remember.

The performers were refreshed at the Little Theatre on Tom Redcam Avenue before being transported to the National Stadium for the culmination of the Independence Day celebrations.

One 67-year-old woman, who refused to give her name, as she confessed that she should not be at the parade which was dubbed "worldly" by her church, said the parade was well-organised and that she enjoyed every moment of it.

"I come every year, and this is one of the best and one of the most organised I have seen," she said. "I love it. I really enjoy it. I have been enjoying it since I was a child and they had the jonkunnu." But despite her church's restrictions, the elderly woman had in her possession a ticket for the Grand Gala at the National Stadium.

According to Courtney Palmer of Suretime Ambulance Service, which provided medical assistance at the parade, a number of participants in the street parade suffered from dehydration as a result of the heat. But he said there was only one case of fainting, and one child from a dance group had to be taken to the hospital after suffering from pain in the leg from an infected cut received two days ago.

Meanwhile, Deputy Superintendent Maudline Williams of the Constant Spring Police Station said the street parade was incident-free.

Published: Saturday, August 07, 2010 [Jamaica Observer]

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