35th Independence Celebrations Surpassing all Expectations



FREEPORT, GRAND BAHAMA, Bahamas – Sen. the Hon. Katherine Smith is accompanied by Mr. Lindy Russell (centre) and Mr. Alexander Williams (left) as they discussed the Independence Celebrations for Grand Bahama. The celebrations are well underway; however, Senator Smith feels the best is yet to come.  According to Sen. Smith, last Saturday’s Beat Retreat and the Grand Bahama Regatta were just enough to wet the appetite. (BIS photo/Simon Lewis)

By: Simon Lewis

– The Grand Bahama based celebrations, marking the country’s 35 anniversary as an independent nation is proving to be very exciting.

The celebrations actually kicked off with the staging of the Grand Bahama Regatta at Taino Beach on June 19.

Residents of West Grand Bahama also joined in the activities as they staged a special celebration and children’s party this past Saturday at St. Stephen’s Park in Eight Mile Rock.

However, what left many Grand Bahama residents asking for more was the performance by the Royal Bahamas Police Force Band and the Defense Force Band in showdown during the Beat Retreat Saturday evening in the area of the Post Office on Explorer’s Ways. That event also saw the participation of the Legends Band and the Bahamas Brass Band.

According to Sen. the Hon. Katherine Smith, Parliamentary Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister and Chairman of the Grand Bahama Independence Committee, the party has just started.

She revealed that the Celebrations picked up again on Tuesday evening with the opening of the Independence Basketball Tournament, which is attracting more than 30 teams and that games will be played at the various gyms and sporting facilities throughout the island.  The tournament is expected to close out on July 11, 2008.

During a press conference at the Office of The Prime Minister on Tuesday morning, Senator Smith sent out another appeal for residents of Grand Bahama to get involve in the celebrations.

She said a golden opportunity for all Bahamians to show national pride will occur this coming Friday, July 4, 2008, which has been billed as National Pride Day.

On this occasion every resident is being encouraged to wear the Independence T-Shirts, and the owners of business places and residences are asked to decorate their premises in the Bahamian national color and proudly display the Bahamian flag.

On Saturday residents are encouraged to travel to East Grand Bahama for the Independence Extravaganza at the High Rock Primary School Field beginning at 6:00 p.m. A lively entertainment package is planned.

A major high point of the Celebrations is the Ecumenical Church Service which will be held at St. John’s Jubilee Cathedral on Settlers Way, Freeport and Sunday, July 6, 2008.

The service will bring together religious leaders and residents from throughout Grand Bahama for praise and worship.  There will also be some special performances during the service which starts at 6:00 p.m.

On Monday, July 7, the Independence Committee has planned a special reception for businesspersons and community leaders from throughout Grand Bahama.

On Tuesday, residents will gather at the Grand Bahama International Airport where a special “Wall of Fame” have been established honouring many of Grand Bahama’s outstanding athletes, past and present. That function begins at 10:00 a.m.

The high point of the celebrations will be the Cultural Show, Tattoo, Flag Raising and Fire Works display, all scheduled for the Independence Park on Coral Road, Wednesday, July 9, 2008, beginning at 7:00 p.m.

The cultural show will showcase some of the top artists in the country and will be hosted by an outstanding Bahamian, Mr. Charles Carter who will give the audience a taste of the past and present in keeping with the 2008 Independence Celebrations theme: The Bahamas at 35 – Celebrating a proud past and looking to a promising future.

Ronnie Butler, Jay Mitchell, and KB top a list of several outstanding Bahamians scheduled to perform a number of old Bahamian favorites.

Residents are in for another treat as the Royal Bahamas Police Force and a segment of the Defense Force take to the field for their annual parade (Tattoo) accompanied by the Royal Bahamas Police Force Marching Band.

The Independence Park on Coral Road is being prepared for the occasion and a replica of a 130 foot Castle is being erected as part of the Police Force performance on that evening.

The Celebrations continues on July 10 with the Ministry of Tourism launching its Summer Junkanoo Programme at Taino Beach beginning at 6:00 p.m.