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Sep 25, 2002

L.A. Belizeans unite for 21st dance

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The recently concluded September celebrations were among the best organised in recent years… but while the flag prepared to raise on independence eve, News 5′S Janelle Chanona and Rick Romero were touching down in Los Angeles, California. They returned this week with a series of reports on the Belizean experience in Lala land. Tonight we join the blade-up (dressed up) crowd at the annual Independence Dance.

Janelle Chanona, Reporting

No matter where they were, on September twenty-first Belizeans took time out to celebrate Belize’s twenty-first birthday. In Los Angeles California, Belizean-Americans arrived in droves at the Hollywood Park and Casino for a few hours of partying and patriotism.

William Flowers

“I miss my culture, I miss the food, the people. It’s like a piece of home, being here, it’s like a piece of home.”

Janelle Chanona

“Many of these people moved here ten, some even twenty years ago, and for one reason or another, have not been able to go back to Belize. Coming to events like this, helps with the homesickness.”

Yara Villeda

“Last year I was celebrating Independence Day in Belize. Today I’m here, so far away from all my family. It’s hard, but that’s the way life goes.”

Janelle Chanona

“So how do you cope? You come to these events?”

Yara Villeda

“Yeah, I was telling my husband you know, it feels good to be among my own people. Never been around so many Belizeans since I came, so it’s really good for me right now.”

Janelle Chanona

“What sort of things you talk about at the table?”

Yara Villeda

“Here, the drinking…Don’t see this ma.” (laughs)

Yadira Awe

“It’s very hard because especially today, like a day like this. And I had never… actually, I had never been home because you are working so hard to try and maintain and send back money home and everything.”

Julie Usher

“I came all the way from Phoenix Arizona for this great event.”

Janelle Chanona

“Why travel that distance?”

Julie Usher

“Because I love my Belizean people. Catching up with everybody, all the stories, all the children that have children, grandchildren…just getting up on the everyday lives with them.”

Reginald Bowman

“Scope people you haven’t seen for a long time. Scope them out, old flames. Occasions like this, everybody come out once in a while, so you see people. It’s been twenty-two years since I haven’t been to Belize, so everything change. But most everybody right here, they are people I’ve been with, grown up with, most of them.”

Janelle Chanona

“So what you do when you see somebody you haven’t seen for a while or somebody you used to be friends with or something?”

Ismay Hewlitt

“Just go crazy, ketch up on old times.”

Janelle Chanona

“What sort of things you talk about at your table?”

Ismay Hewlitt

“When the dance going to start? We ready to party.”

Janelle Chanona

“So you remember how to Punta?”

Ismay Hewlitt

“Yes gal.”

Janelle Chanona

“You have to show me that you know.”

Ismay Hewlitt

“You wah see me out deh.”

The party included tastes of home, rice and beans chicken and salad is one word. And the most popular Belizean band…Santino’s Messengers. Don’t worry, this Belize crowd knew how to get their groove back in style…

(Belizeans dancing)

It is within this spirit, organizers Joan Greenwood and her committee hope to create a community atmosphere among the L.A. Belizeans.

Joan Greenwood, Gen. Sec., Belize Cultural Foundation

“It’s there, I really feel strong about the Belizean community coming together. I really have hopes, I really see where it’s very possible. There are difficulties, however, I think it can happen. Tonight is a good experience, it shows you the response that we had and the people coming to celebrate. This is the twenty-first year of our independence and we really wanted to make it special.”

And of course, no Belizean festivity would be complete without its share of beauty queens.

Natalie Mena, Ms. Garifuna L.A. 2001-2002,

(Speaking Garifuna)

Janelle Chanona

“What does that mean?”

Natalie Mena

“I said, Good evening ladies and gentlemen, my name is Natalie Mena. I am fourteen years old. I was born in Dangriga town in the year 1988. I thank you ladies and gentlemen.”

There’s an expression that goes, you can take Belizeans out of Belize, but you can’t take Belize out of Belizeans…here’s living proof. Reporting for News 5 from Los Angeles, I am Janelle Chanona.

Janelle and Rick were guests of the Belize Cultural Foundation.


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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