By Nelson A. King
A full cast of soca and calypso artists entertained an exuberant crowd Sunday evening, as officials from the Carnival Development Committee and the Ministry of Sports and Culture in St. Vincent and the Grenadines launched the 40th Anniversary of Vincy Mas in Brooklyn.
Hundreds of nationals made it their top priority to witness and participate in the four-hour-long ceremony at the Friends of Crown Heights Educational Center.
The event also served as the simultaneous launching pad for the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Diaspora Mapping Project, organized by the Regional Integration and Diaspora Unit, in partnership with the United Nation’s International Organization of Migration.
Briggo, Bomani, Scorcher, Dennis Bowman, Drakie, Hibiscus, Madzart and Winston Soso were among artistes who performed at the anniversary launch.
Among officials were Tourism, Sports and Culture Minister Cecil “Ces” McKie; Tourism Authority chief executive officer Glen Beache; chairman Ricky Adams; 40th anniversary chairman Dennis Ambrose; New York Consul General Howie Prince; and president of the Brooklyn-based umbrella Vincentian group in the United States, Council of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, U.S.A, Inc., Laverne McDowald-Thompson.
“Our mission, at this time, is to extend an early invitation to everyone to join us in promoting the special celebration of 40 years of June to July Carnival — Vincy Mas 2017,” said Ambrose, the committee’s immediate past president, stating that he was pleased to be invited to speak to “this wide cross-section of persons, who have been identified as a great audience for assisting St. Vincent and the Grenadines Team to link with other sources in the Diaspora.”
Ambrose said the Diaspora “has worked well” with the committee in the past in promoting carnival as a tourism product for SVG.
“We anticipate your participation at multiple levels in this landmark festival,” he told the ebullient crowd, which included officials and artistes from, among others, the Brooklyn-based Dynamite Calypso Tent, Mas Productions Unlimited and Club St. Vincent, Inc., one of the leading Vincentian cultural groups in the U.S.
Ambrose said the 40th Anniversary of Vincy Mas Committee hopes to introduce some new shows in the Vincy Mas program, which starts as early as January 2017.
“Our presence here is, of course, to give you an early little teaser of our special program for Vincy Mas 40th Anniversary celebration,” he said, adding that the Committee is staging events in different parts of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, “which would showcase talents of the components leading to the hype of the official launch of the festival.”
Ambrose said that date is set for May 6; carnival dates are from June 20 to July 11, 2017.
Adams said his focus as new committee chairman goes by the acronym “Madness.”
He said “m” represents marketing; “a” for accountability; “d” for development; “n” for natural interest; “e” for embracing change; “s” for shows; and the other “s” for synergies.
“I invite all to Vincy Mas 2017, where we will continue to celebrate the hottest carnival in the Caribbean,” he said. “Congratulations to all predecessors who brought Vincy Mas to this point.
“We are now 40 and, when you turn 40, it is a new era when you can be more confident and explore new opportunities in life,” he added. “So, too, will Vincy Mas embrace this new era.”
McKie urged nationals not only to come home for Vincy Mas but to come home for other activities, stating: “We have now reached the stage, where we can boast [of] a whole calendar of events in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
“I want you to pay attention, because there are a lot of activities for you in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, because if you don’t others will,” he warned.
“Put your hands to St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” he urged. “For the next 10 years, St. Vincent and the Grenadines will be envy of the Caribbean.”
Beache also appealed to the audience to speak well about the homeland.
“I hear a lot of people complain,” he said. “We need to stop being so negative about St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
“You can see from the team we brought up here that the Diaspora is very important,” he added. “Take pride in your homeland. If, as Vincentians, we don’t take pride in what you have, nobody else is going to do it for you.”
New Consul General Howie Prince said: “You’re asked for change, and you got it.
“So it is for you to get behind these people behind carnival in St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” he added.
McDowald-Thompson told the audience that the program was “planned with you in mind, and it is planned in the form of culture.”
Prince, who have already demonstrated keen interest in working closely with groups and individuals in the US Diaspora – “a breath of fresh air,” observers say — prepared the program’s agenda, while free refreshments were prepared.
Scorcher performed “Wake Up the Party,” “Sweetness is my Weakness” and “Party Fever.”
Among others, Bomani sang “Dis Island;” Dennis Bowman wanted Vincentians to “Take Care of SVG” and commended construction of the “Argyle International Airport;” Briggo “Welcome to St. Vincent and the Grenadines;” Mazart gave a warm “Welcome to Vincy Mas;” and Soso wrapped up the entertainment, which interspersed the ceremony, with his signature “I Don’t Mind.”