Unique SVG Festival kicks off with action at Heritage Square
by Bria King
What does a woman with rollers in her hair, a man sitting on a bench with a spliff between his fingers and children carrying foldable chairs have in common?
They were all gathered at Heritage Square in Kingstown some minutes to four on Wednesday morning for the first session of this year’s Nine Mornings Festival.
The long-standing Christmas tradition kicked off this week with devotions led by the Mt Sinai Spiritual Baptist Church, on-stage activities, table tennis and football in the middle of the street and the Nine Mornings train taking patrons around town.
Some older children also zoomed by in the streets on their bikes; some tricked out with flashing lights and small but loud speakers.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, adults and children alike ventured to capital Kingstown from far and surrounding areas to witness the start of this year’s activities.
One of the several patrons at the first morning of the festival sat stage side with some of her grandchildren.
Having expressed that she is a regular when it comes to attending Nine Mornings festivities, the woman said she thought Wednesday morning’s activities were boring.
“This morning wasn’t nice…because to me, I don’t know. Much people didn’t turn out this morning. I don’t know if it’s because of the virus. I don’t know if is that cause it but the turnout this morning wasn’t the usual crowd,” she told SEARCHLIGHT.
However, the grandmother said she intends to attend the remaining eight mornings of the festival.
“I hope the other mornings will improve with performance; the performance will be better and a lot more people turn out,” she said.
Another woman sat by the river and away from the crowd, but close enough to observe what was happening on stage.
She told SEARCHLIGHT that she did not usually attend Nine Mornings but decided to venture out for the first morning of activities.
The woman said she appreciated that the events were able to take place despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Though, she noted that not many people were wearing masks in the crowd.
Her favourite part of Wednesday morning’s activities were the ones that included the children.
Masters of ceremony on the first morning of activities cautioned recent arrivals to the country to not break the quarantine period to attend Nine Mornings.
In addition to putting others at risk, an individual who breaks quarantine is liable to a pay up to $2000 and six-months imprisonment, per offence.
Wednesday morning’s line up saw performances from the Nine Mornings band, the Bowmans, Sion Hill Euphonium steel orchestra and other young performers.
At Nine Mornings, everyone’s a winner.
This means all participants receive prizes for being good sports and taking part in the various stage-side events.
Sponsors of the 2020 installment of the festival include the National Lotteries Authority, VINLEC, Bank of St Vincent and the Grenadines (BOSVG), Subway, Tus-T Water, GECCU, the Teachers’ Cooperative Credit Union (TCCU) and the Tourism Authority.
As its name suggests, the unique Vincentian tradition that is Nine Mornings will run for the nine mornings leading up to Christmas. It will end on the morning of Christmas Eve, December 24.
In addition to the main event taking place in Heritage Square each morning, other community programmes are also expected to take place.
Running concurrently with Nine Mornings is the Nine Nights of Lights at the Botanic Gardens, which offers evening activities for families and friends in the days leading up to Christmas.
Nine Nights began on Tuesday, December 15 and will end on the evening of December 23.