by Coral King
New York, NY – During Caribbean Week, The Empire State Building, one of the seven wonders of the modern world, was lit up in blue, green, and yellow, which are considered the colors of the Caribbean in honor of the meaningful occasion. Now that the festivities held annually in New York have finished, and the fun is over, it is back to reality.
For one week we were engrossed in the celebration of sights, sounds, energy, food, and culture of back home. If you aren’t from the islands, the aftereffects surely made you want to visit somewhere exotic to escape the dreary day outside and overcast skies.
The Diaspora was highly engaged in the list of activities arranged by the Caribbean Tourism Organization. As typical Caribbean people, we believe in putting God first, and everything else after. The commencement of Caribbean week on June 6th initiated with an annual Church service at St. George’s Episcopal Church, in Brooklyn.
The Caribbean Diaspora Forum which was held at the Hemsley Hotel was heated, figuratively speaking, as the media shed their qualms on the lack of retention of minority owned companies to market the region they know best. Sitting in the hot seat, trying their best to explain the strategies put in place were Ministers of Tourism from Barbados, Richard Sealey; Grenada, Glynis Roberts, and St Vincent and the Grenadines, Glen Beache.
At the Caribbean Week Press Conference, we received a review of the region’s performance which looked overwhelmingly favorable. The Tourism Minister of Puerto Rico, Mr. Jaime Lopez Diaz was present to add his signature to the Memorandum of Agreement between Caribbean Tourism Organization Ministers. All of the ministers from countries involved recognize the interdependence in one another to improve the individual tourism sectors.
The Rhythm and Rum Festival, arguably the most anticipated event during Caribbean Week, did not disappoint as the general public moved to the beats, watched dance performances, and sampled alcoholic cocktails.
The week wrapped up with the 37th Annual Governments of the Caribbean State Ball and Awards Presentations at the luxurious Plaza Hotel, in New York City. The Ball, an elegant black-tie affair, featured the very best in Caribbean food. Visiting celebrity chefs prepared our succulent dinner which consisted of Calypso Duck Confit Roulade, with Spicy Tropical Fruit Chutney and Mango Gastrique; Grilled Filet of Beef, Curried Yucca Puree, Servile Orange Braised Bay Carrots, as well as Seared Red Snapper. While we ate, we were entertained by Pan Ambassador, sponsored by Trinidad & Tobago, who played a repertoire of songs ranging from soca, reggae, R&B and gospel.
This year’s Life Achievement Award was presented to Antiuga and Barbuda’s Dame Yvonne Maginley. Ms Maginley was the island’s first Director of Tourism and a past chairman of the Eastern Caribbean Tourist Association. The 2010 Award of Excellence was presented to Dominica’s Janice Armour for her pioneering role in the Dominican Hospitality Industry. She served as VP of Dominica Hotel and Tourism Association and President of the Dominica Hotel Association. The first Caribbean Diaspora Award was presented to founder of the Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Grenada-born Roy Hastick. Everyone mingled, and shared greetings at the end of the program. Ernest Littles, President and Director for the Tourism and Development Company Limited of Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica’s Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett chatted briefly, as his colleagues joined in on the fun dancing the night away to the rhythm and sounds of music we love so much.
Photos by Coral King and Roland Hyde.