Despite the bitterly cold weather, the Brooklyn-based Garifuna Indigenous People of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Inc. (GIPSVG, Inc.) Saturday evening held a very successful 2nd Annual National Heroes Day celebration at the Friends of Crown Heights Educational Center in Brooklyn.
Hundreds braved the conditions to participate in the grand celebration that featured local handicraft, singing, dancing, drumming and poetry, as well as indulgence in local delicacies.
Many arrived early to secure their portions of dukuna, farine, cassava bread (chokee bam bam), tri tri cake, among other local Vincentian eats, according to GIPSVG, Inc. president Marsena Ballanyne.
“The event sought not only to remember Paramount Chief Joseph Chatoyer, national hero of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, but to inspire national pride, promote Vincentian heritage and provide patrons and visitors with a typical Vincentian National Heroes Day celebration,” Ballantyne, a Counsellor at the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Mission to the United Nations, told Caribbean Life in an exclusive interview.
“A diverse line-up of performances in a packed program of entertainment was presented,” she added.
The highlights of the show included a Quadrille dance by the GIPSVG, Inc.; folklore performance by the United Vincie Cultural group of Brooklyn; Punta dance by the Budari Dance Company of Honduras; and surprise calypso rendition by newly-appointed St. Vincent and the Grenadines Consul General to the United States, Howie Prince.
Other artistes bringing the show to a climax were Chanique Rogers; James Lovell; Daria Primus; and Vincentian Calypso artiste, Maxwell “Tajoe” Francis, who also co-hosted the show and entertained in song and poetry.
But it was popular Vincentian soca artiste, Fya Empress, whose real name is Lornette Nedd, who brought the house down with dynamic renditions of “True Vincy”; “Rum, Please” and “Ah Ketch it,” among others.
“The show was epic,” Ballantyne said. “The support that we continue to receive from the Consul General and other Vincentian associations here in New York was evident, and it’s something we very much appreciate.
“The event was a celebration of a Vincentian heritage that I think many here in the Diaspora are still learning about and embracing,” she added, stating that it is the intention of GIPSVG, Inc. to continue promoting it.
Meantime, the Bronx-based Garifuna Coalition, USA, Inc., a nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit organization, said it was “proud to celebrate St. Vincent and the Grenadines National Heroes Day as part of Garifuna-American Heritage Month.”
The group invites the public to attend its 9th Annual Chief Joseph Chatoyer Memorial Mass, on Sunday, March 19, at 2 pm, at St. Anthony of Padua Church, 832 East, 166 St., Bronx.