Heavy thundershowers and a tornado watch overnight and early morning on July 20 gave way to a lovely, sunny Saturday, as thousands descended on Brown’s Bay Park on the shores of the St. Lawrence River in Western Ontario, Canada for the annual Vincy Unity Picnic.
For over 20 years old the annual event has attracted Vincentian nationals, their Caribbean counterparts and supporters from all walks of life in North America, the Caribbean and home. Nationals converged on the huge park, in the 1,000 Is. area, coming primarily by bus and car from major Canadian and United States cities, such as Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, New York, Philadelphia, Boston and Washington, D.C.
The Brooklyn, New York-based umbrella Vincentian group in the United States, Council of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Organizations, U.S.A. Inc. (COSAGO) and the Philadelphia-based St. Vincent and the Grenadines Organization of Pennsylvania (SVGOP) collaborated in organizing five buses for the massive picnic.
The spectacle, described as the largest event on any given day on the shores of the St. Lawrence River, was organized by three Vincentian groups in Canada – the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Association of Montreal, the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Ottawa Association, and the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Association of Toronto.
Picnic-goers dined on wide-ranging, mouth-watering Vincy delicacies, such as pelau; bakes and saltfish; doughboy, dukuna; boilin with coconut dumpling; fish broth; goat water; barbecue chicken, ribs and fish; and roasted and boiled corn.
They washed them down with mauby, ginger and sorrel beers, and just plain water, while gyrating or listening to the sounds of popular DJs, such as the Brooklyn-based Supa Eyes at the New York/Phillie tents or Toronto-based DJs Freeze and Fusion at the main stage in the center of the park.
The Toronto-based Syxxfaze Band was also on hand to entertain the mammoth crowd at the main stage, while Master of Ceremonies E. Bernard John, former manager of the National Broadcasting Corporation in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, kept the performance of a host of artistes flowing.
Some local businesses and agencies, such as Western Union, KLC Freight Lines Limited, AI Real Estate, Carnival Power.com, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines Tourism Authority capitalized on the extravaganza to promote their wares.
“I’m feeling good!” exclaimed Montreal resident Sheroya Cole in a Caribbean Life interview.
“You get to meet a lot of people you didn’t see in a very long time,” she added.
Mozica O. Bascombe, who is vacating in Montreal, intoned: “I love it. I’m enjoying myself – lots of people.”
Kelly Richards, who also lives in Montreal, could not withhold her excitement.
“I love it,” she said. “It’s very, very interesting, because you get to meet a lot of people who you haven’t seen in years.”
As they “chewed down” corned beef, bakes and fried plantain, the Dallaway family, said they have been attending the picnic for the last 20 years.
“How can I not support my country?” asked rhetorically Sandra Dallaway, a customer operations specialist with Alexion, a bio-pharmaceutical company in Toronto.
“It’s a great opportunity to meet friends and family,” added the Mississauga, Toronto suburb, resident.
Her mother, Isola Dallaway, said they love their country of birth to the hilt.