Massive turnout for Jamaica in the Square
by Poppy Brady
THE HEART of Birmingham was transformed as up to 30,000 people helped Jamaica to celebrate its 55th anniversary of independence from British colonial rule on August 6.
The city’s famous ‘Floozie in the Jacuzzi’ statue was barely visible among the crowds, but she looked more laid back than usual – as if she too was enjoying the vibe of Jamaica 55 at Jamaica in the Square II.
At Sunday’s flag-raising ceremony, the disappointment of Bolt’s 100m defeat to Gatlin the night before seemed to have dispersed on the breeze like the cooking smoke from scores of barbecues dotted around Victoria Square.
HOLD ‘EM HIGH: The Jamaican flag was raised during the ceremony on August 6 in Birmingham (image credit: Tony Brady)
When the flag of Jamaica was hoisted aloft by Royal Navy officers during a ceremony full of pomp and praise, it was clear this was a party in full swing with a final free open air concert to look forward to.
Organiser Dean Alexander was close to tears with relief and pride that the three-day festival, which began on Friday, had been as successful as Jamaica in the Square I in 2012 when Birmingham hosted the Jamaica track and field team in the fortnight before London 2012.
COME RAIN OR SHINE: Revellers were out in full force to celebrate Jamaica’s55th independence on August 6 (image credit: Tony Brady)
As Bishop Dr. Derek Webley said in his ceremonial message:“Birmingham is the greatest city to be in today. The people of Birmingham know howto party – let us celebrate 55 blessed years of Jamaica and give thanks for the land we love.”
The two-hour ceremony, sponsored by Victoria Mutual, the Royal Navy, Diamond Travel, and the Association of Jamaican Nationals (Birmingham) UK, was the grand finale to a three-day family festival highlighting Jamaica’s 55th anniversary, which had the theme this year of celebrating Jamaicans both at home and abroad.
Councillor Sybil Spence, who became Birmingham’s first black Lord Mayor in 1997 told the crowd it was ‘so good’ to be reminded of Jamaica’s independence, as it was an event no-one should forget.
PROUD: Shakera Green, left, with Pauline Wedderburn, came out to enjoy the day (image credit: Tony Brady)
Reverend Jonathan Jackson added:
“Jamaica has so much richness not only in the ground, but in its people. The people are out saints, our champions, our heroes – we need to remember their greatness.
“The next generation need to know where they came from so they can chart their own way to their destiny – out of many one people.”
Youngsters from the 30th Birmingham Boys’ Brigade and Girls Association recited the National Pledge and there was entertainment from Patricia Panton, Miss P, Brothers United in Christ, Jam Folk and Saxophonist Millicent Stephenson.