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Annual picnic a success

Annual picnic a success

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By Tom Austin/Jack Dear

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves was the centre of attraction as he took time out from his business trip to Canada to attend the 16th annual SVG Associations Unity Picnic at Brown’s Bay, Ontario. {{more}}
This year was made special not only by the visit of Prime Minister Gonsalves and Dr. Jerrold Thompson, but also by the fact of our continuing celebration of the 25th anniversary of the independence of SVG.
Saturday morning, July 24, 2004, opened beautifully with a brilliant clear blue sky, which mimicked that of SVG except when you step out your front door, you were greeted by the cool crisp air, 15 Celsius (60 Fahrenheit), of a Canadian high pressure weather system at the height of our summer.
As we boarded our tour buses in Montreal at 7:30 a.m. or drove in cars, vans or SUVs for the 250 km (2.5 hrs.) trip, we were in a buoyant mood, determined to celebrate not only for ourselves but also for those who were there last year, but could not attend this year because of other commitments, and for those diehard picnickers whom God had chosen to call home.
The Prime Minister’s red parka shielded from the cold winds until hot Vincy and Caribbean soca music pounding from the five discos in the park blasted the cold air from Brown’s Bay. Even the sun cooperated by pouring more golden rays and pushing the temperature up to an enjoyable 24-degrees Celsius (75-deg. Fahrenheit).
A short ceremony began with a brief welcome address from Gideon Exeter picnic co-ordinator/ Western Union sponsorship representative, followed by Dr. Thompson, who took time off from his telecommunication conference in Ottawa to attend the picnic, OECS High Commissioner Lorraine Williams, and finally Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves who spoke briefly, but enthusiastically, about the picnic, the number of SVG nationals in attendance, his reception and SVG international airport project and its financing.
Following his address the Prime Minister continued his Love-In with Vincentians, Caricom nationals and friends, many of whom did not want to let him go. For the approximately 5000 persons (Canada Parks officials estimates) in attendance it was beautiful and magnificent. They could not have asked for a better day. They came in their numbers: 25 tour buses and approximately 750 cars, vans and SUVs from Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Boston, New York; others were visiting from several other countries including Trinidad & Tobago. They came to meet and greet one another; some have not seen each other for 30 years, to enjoy copious delicious food, games, the great outdoors, soca music, dancing, costumes displays and to meet and greet the Prime Minister. First timers, including Vincentians visiting from other countries, marvelled at the idyllic setting of this beautiful park on the banks of the mighty St. Lawrence River with 1000 beautiful well manicured islands in the middle and on the horizon in northern New York State. It reminded so many of Bequia and other Grenadine islands on the horizon, gazing from Kingstown and other southern parts of mainland SVG.
The organizing committee from the Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto Associations certainly have their work cut out for them as they plan for next year’s event, but for this year a hearty thank you goes to our counterparts: Sandra Bobb, president of SVG Ottawa Association and Ken Farrell, president of SVG Toronto Association, and all the picnickers for a job well done.

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