As thousands of Vincentians from all walks of life gear up to attend the Eighth Annual Vincy Day USA, at Heckscher State Park in East Islip, Long Is., the new chairman of the Brooklyn-based group says everything on stream for the grand extravaganza on Aug. 17.
“Preparations for Vincy Day are progressing well, as we speak,” said Raymond O. “Otis” Lewis in an exclusive Caribbean Life interview.
“We’ve been having this event for the past seven years, and we have a thorough check list that we reference to ensure that we have things under control and in order,” he added.
Leading up to Vincy Day USA this year, Lewis said the committee hosted three major events to offset the cost of holding the massive picnic: A Gospel Extravaganza on March 31; Spring Bingo (Bingo Night) on May 3; and the Annual Food Sale on July 27.
All events were held on the grounds of the Friends of Crown Heights Educational Centers at 671 Prospect Pl. and 1435 Prospect Pl., both in Brooklyn.
“The reception at our events is normally pretty good,” Lewis said. “The bingo by far had our biggest turnout, as the hall was pretty much at capacity.
“Our Gospel Extravaganza was favorably attended as well,” he added. “But given that it was a Sunday afternoon and around Easter, it didn’t have the full complement as we would have liked. However, for the ones who did come out, they had a wonderful time and expressed a desire for us to do it again.
“Our food sale wasn’t at its normal capacity, but we did have a fair amount of patrons who thoroughly enjoyed what we had on the menu,” he continued.
Lewis said this year’s Vincy Day USA will feature a cross section of talented Vincentian artistes, representing different genres, “be it culture, calypso, gospel, etc., etc.”
“As has been the norm, we don’t declare who will be performing at Vincy Day primarily to temper expectations and to avoid disappointment to all in attendance,” he said.
On the big stage last year, pre-eminent Vincentian gospel artiste Bridget Blucher, 2018 Ragga Soca and Road March King Fimba, and soca star Skinny Fabulous were among a number of artistes who convulsed the party crowd.
“We look to put on a great family fun day, buoyed by an entertainment segment highlighting various aspects of Vincentian culture and talent, as well activities for children of various ages and, most important, the unity and interaction of over 10,000 Vincentians from near and far having a good time,” said Lewis about this year’s expectations.
Food and drinks galore are also expected to be superflous, as picnic-goers, over the years, have shared and feasted on mouth-watering Vincentian dishes — such as breadfruit and saltfish, blackfish, callaloo soup, pelau, souse and roasted corn — and washed them down with local drinks — mauby, ginger and sorrel beers, and Ju-C.
In addition, picnic-goers, among other things, will renew acquaintances, “ole talk” and party before the huge stage on the eastern end of the mammoth grounds.
“I just want to say that Vincy Day is a day that thousands of Vincentians look forward to, because we get an opportunity to meet up with friends and family that we may not have seen in how many years,” Lewis said.
“My feelings for Vincy Day have always been of love and togetherness,” he added. “I’ve attended every Vincy Day, and, as the new chairman, it’s even more important because I want to ensure that we put together an event that is par excellence and the envy of all other Caribbean islands.
“Like the saying goes, ‘We might be small, but we tallawah,’” continued Lewis, borrowing a common Jamaican parlance.
He said his plans for the committee and, by large extension Vincy Day USA, is “to continue and further enhance the relationships that we’ve established over the years and try to bring about a greater sense of community spirit and unity.”
“We try to bill Vincy Day as a family fun day, and we want to enhance that communal spirit even more by reaching out to other organizations and getting a sense of where we can focus and shine a light, so to speak,” Lewis said.
“And we just want everyone to come out to Heckscher State Park in Long Island on Saturday, Aug. 17, from 10 am to 6 pm, and have a wonderful day, smiling, greeting in love, peace and unity,” he urged.