Chairman of National Nine Morning’s Committee packs up after 30 years
The Chairman of the National Nine Mornings’ Committee, Michael Peters, officially took his leave of the post on Saturday, after working on the development of the tradition since 1989.
Peters’ last official event as Chairman of the Committee was the Prize Giving Ceremony where the results of the 2018 Nine Mornings’ competitions were announced.
This took place at the Peace Memorial Hall on January 5.
The Chairman, in an interview with SEARCHLIGHT, noted that resigning as Chairman is a decision that has been coming for a few years.
“I’ve been in it for quite a long time over the years so, I felt that it was the right time for me to now make way for someone else,” he disclosed.
The now former Chairman, who has led the Committee over the period 2005 to 2018, reminisced: “When I started there was nothing, I was coming in to the department of culture and I was given the challenge of developing what, at that time, would have been a dead tradition.”
Now, nearly three decades on, the tradition of Nine Mornings has changed its face into one of a festival which “Vincentians can be proud of” with help from others, Peters noted.
He said Nine Mornings used to be a spontaneous event in which persons got up in the morning and did a variety of things on their own. Now the events are structured.
“It was just a tradition, and it was just activities, there was no festival so to speak and people got up, they went to the beach, they went to sea bathing, and as time changed, some people went to fetes and so on, but we couldn’t tell anybody in St Vincent to go walk in the morning, or come to St Vincent to go to the beach at three o’clock in the morning,” he revealed.
With this structure, there comes an opportunity for tourism. “We truly have a festival with which we could say, “Ay, come to St Vincent and the Grenadines for the Nine Mornings Festival” because there were organized activities from the 16th to the 24th,” he emphasized, commenting that figures for visitors to the island have increased significantly thanks to this.
With all the leaps and changes that the Christmas festival has seen over this time, the Chairman says that as he leaves, there are regrets in terms of things that he would love to have seen happen, that did not.
“I have been working very hard to get the business community to add value to the festival, meaning, develop all kind of paraphernalia, and memorabilia on the festival, t-shirts, towels, mugs, and so on; but our business community has been slow to capitalize on that,” he stressed, adding, “If you go to a baseball or a basketball game in the United States there are things designed to take every single dollar out of your pocket.”
“That is my disappointment,” Peters ended.
Additionally, a goal for the Committee would have been to develop Kingstown as the Christmas Capital of the Caribbean, but with the reluctance of businesses and the Government buildings to ‘Light up,’ it is ‘extremely lacking’ Peters lamented. “Kingstown is extremely dark in the evening,” at Christmas, he stated. However, with his tenure completed, Peters says that he feels primarily, “accomplishment, that I came, I might have started with nothing, but I was able to accomplish something, and make my contribution.”
“I leave with the fact that I’ve done my bit, somebody else now has to rise to the occasion,” he said.
[UPDATED on January 10, 2019 to correct the date when Mr. Peters became Chairman of the Committee]