Cultural treat at Vincentian tea party

Yvonne Peters (L) and Dr. Roxie Irish (R) with contestants for Miss Continental Pageant 2014, L-R: Joseanne Harper (Miss New York), Jadini Phillips (Miss Tobago), Shereesia Browne (Miss St. Vincent and the Grenadines), Imani Peterson (Miss Grenada), Aaniya Johnson (Miss Trinidad) and Kelly Smith (Miss St. Lucia).
Photo by Nelson A. King

Nostalgic Vincentian and other Caribbean nationals in New York two Saturdays ago got an appetizing local cultural treat at what has been described as a very successful “Tea Party with a Difference” by one of the leading Vincentian cultural groups in the United States.

The United Vincie Cultural Group of Brooklyn (UVCGB) continues to make a strong indentation in the Diaspora with its cultural masterpieces, even at a tea party on May 3.

The group staged its 6th Annual Tea Party at St. Anthony Baptist Church, 425 Utica Ave., corner of Utica Ave. and Empire Blvd. in Brooklyn, providing not only much nourishment for the body but also hilarious entertainment for the soul, while raising funds for its medical mission at home.

Patrons dined on local delicacies, such as saltfish cakes, beef and chicken patties, chicken wings, and coconut tart, washing them down with passion fruit juice, fruit punch, tea, coffee and hot chocolate.

They also absorbed and participated in song and hat competitions, and gently swayed to folkloric and sentimental rhythms from the group’s newly-formed band, featuring lead guitarist and cultural figure, Gordon “Don” Sutherland, founder of the defunct Vincentian band, Affetuosos, who wrote many of UVCGB’s folks songs.

The UVCGB band also comprised Geoffrey Holder, Tyrone Owusu Slater, and Rawle “Winkie” De Caul.

The band played a variety of songs, including “O, Islands in the Sun,” and “St. Vincent My Homeland,” with guests singing along.

The show also featured Emily Mentor James on harmonica (mouth organ).

Additionally, patrons got a “sneak preview” of Miss Continental Pageant 2014, a Brooklyn-based beauty show founded and chaired by Vincentian ex-netballer Yvonne Peters. The show takes place on Jun. 14 at George Wingate High School in Brooklyn.

Six beauties – representing New York, Tobago, Trinidad, St. Lucia, Grenada, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines – graced the stage and briefly espoused their respective platforms before the very appreciative audience.

Some also participated in the Hat Competition that was won by Miss Grenada, Imani Peterson, with Miss St. Lucia, Kelly Smith, taking the first runner-up spot, and Barbadian Sis. Denise Callendar, of Miracle Temple Ministries in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, snatching the second runner-up position.

“Our 6th Annual Tea Party was a great success,” said UVCGB president Dr. Roxie Irish in a Caribbean Life interview afterwards.

“Each year, we strive to improve on our service and entertainment,” added the Born-Again Christian. “It entails a lot of work, but it is all worth it.

“From the feedback we have received, everyone in attendance had a wonderful time and is already looking forward to next year’s event,” continued Irish, stating that guests also came from Connecticut and New Jersey, as well as far away as the Cayman Islands.

Irish, who chaired the proceedings, also appealed to the audience to dig deep into their wallets, pockets and pocket books in supporting avid UVCGB supporter Judy Lavia, who is currently in a coma at Lutheran Hospital in the BayRidge section of Brooklyn. US$1,100 was raised at the event to help defray Lavia’s medical cost, Irish said.

“We are very grateful to our guests who showed such a great outpouring of love and care,” she said. “Judy has been attending our tea parties over the years, and we believe in God for a full recovery. We are always willing to help those who are in need.”

Annette Stowe, who attended the event for the first time, was adjudged “Best Dressed,” winning the inaugural, coveted “Miss United Vincie Cultural Group of Brooklyn 2014.” Susanne Edwards, of Curaçao, was first runner-up, and Vincentian Donna Ashe second runner-up.

Stowe, Conference and Internet Administator at the Manhattan-based Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) U.S.A. Inc. , said since she was unfamiliar with the event’s format, she did not plan to participate in the competition, disclosing that, at this time of the year, she is usually in the Caribbean on CTO business.

She, however, said: “It was a nice event. I was a bit surprised. I was even more surprised when I won.

“It was fun. I enjoyed it,” she added. “Everything was a big surprise. I gave a little entertainment (by strutting her stuff on stage),” Stowe continued. “I thought it a nice evening.”

In quoting the American industrialist and founder of the Ford Motor Company, Henry Ford, Irish said: “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”

She added: “Teamwork is about everyone; not an individual. Let’s continue to work together as we strive to build a New St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”

UVCGB’s 10th Annual Cultural Show takes place on Sept. 6 at Meyer Levin Intermediate School, at the corner of Beverley Road and Ralph Avenue, in Brooklyn.

From left, Jamaican evangelist Lovinia Hall, Dofflyn King and Dr. Roxie Irish singing “Island in the Sun.”
Photo by Nelson A. King

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