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Aug 12, 1998

Schedule set for September Celebrations

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With virtually the entire nation focussed on August twenty seventh the interest that would traditionally be building about now for September celebrations is hard to find. But that didn’t stop the people in charge of this year’s bash from calling in the press to unveil exactly what we can look forward to once the political hoopla has died down.

On September tenth, 1798, the Battle of St. George’s came to an end, after the Spanish finally went home after eight days of small skirmishes with the Baymen and their slaves. Today, two hundred years later, The September Celebrations Committee has launched its program of events in celebration of the bicentennial anniversary of this historical confrontation.

Janine Sylvestre, Chairperson

“Every Belizean recognizes and understands the unique privilege of living in this era has afforded us to participate and observe the two hundred anniversary of the Battle of St. George’s Caye Day. It is difficult to look back at two hundred years and grasp just how significant the facts, thoughts and decisions and actions of our ancestors really were. To equate it in modern times, it would be our B.D.F. defending itself alone from a super power like the United States.”

Historical exaggeration aside, the program, for the first time, includes activities that will be happening in the districts. According to Janine Sylvestre, the committee’s chairperson, there will be something for everyone.

Janine Sylvestre

“I think it is a lot bigger and a lot brighter and a lot more interesting. We have, like I mentioned, the Mayan statement, the tradition mixed with the newer activities that we could include the people that want to see their traditional things on the tenth and the twenty first, as well as for the younger people that want to enjoy a night of concert or carnival or go to St. George’s Caye. So we are trying to combine things that would suit the young and the old, as well as Belizeans or visitors coming from abroad.”

Just as there has been some additions to the usual list of activities, some of the venues have been changed. One notable alteration concerns the all day jump up traditionally held on Albert and Regent Streets on September twenty first. Myrna Manzanares, the committee’s deputy chairperson, says it was out of a concern for the people’s safety that this event will now take place at the National Stadium.

Myrna Manzanares, Deputy Chairperson

“In case of a disaster where the place was so congested what is going to happen, so they needed to look for an alternative. So I think that was the basic reason. The place was too congested, the people are going to be more this year and it was a whole thing of concern. I know I was concerned. The fire chief and the policemen were even more concerned because it was too closed in.

I think there will be more stalls and more booths because they are going to have a section outside of the stadium as well as inside the stadium and I think along the sides of the street as well. So there is going to have a whole section blocked off.”

Another highlight will be a float parade on September tenth. Velda Aguet, who is in charge of this event says they are expecting at least twenty floats to participate. Aguet says there are enough ideas hanging around in the libraries that business houses and individuals should have no trouble coming up with something worthwhile.

Velda Aguet, Committee Member

“Start looking at it, start studying the various materials and come up. They will be able to come up with some very interesting floats. We have a few floats already. The people from Chicago, Los Angeles and maybe New York, the Tourist Board and Rotaract are already working on theirs.”

Some of the new activities this year include a Creole Council bicentennial play, a Grand Ball at Government House, a bicentennial St. George’s Caye celebration with a memorial service and a re-enactment of the Battle at Fort Point. All these activities will be celebrated under the theme: “Belize: A Historic Past, Glorious Future.” The Theme was chosen by Rene Villanueva a committee member.

Rene Villanueva, Committee Member

“We are celebrating the bicentennial of the Battle

of St. George’s Caye, which shows that we have a rich past. You know there is a lot of history in our past. There is a lot of history, a lot of meaning in our past. And then if you look at the fact that this committee is also responsible for the seventeenth anniversary of our independence which, well it has us looking towards our future.”

Also on the front page of the program’s booklet is its logo depicting a master and his slave firing a cannon out to sea. According to the designer, Edison Staine, another committee member, the idea first came to him in 1997.

Edison Staine, Committee Member

“Well, I had the idea of the master and the slave that was the main thing and how to put that on paper and the other idea that I had… The standing on land is only symbolic because it was a sea battle. So standing on land is symbolic. The master and slave firing a cannon at the enemy. The rest is the usual red, white and blue border with the bicentennial and the Battle of St. George’s Caye on the top.”

The committee says they are also expecting a crowd of Belizeans and tourist from the States to arrive for the two hundredth bash.

Laura Esquivel, Committee Member

“Well we are expecting a lot more than in previous years. Most of the airlines are saying that they have limited space left on all their flights especially the first two weeks in September. They are pretty much booked. They have few spaces left on, especially now that they are coming out with new promotions on top of the promotions they have announced before. So we are expecting that all of our flights are going to come in very booked.”

Q: “What is the situation with the hotels?”

Laura Esquivel

“We have a few hotels, especially out at San Pedro, some in Belize City, some in Placencia, some in Cayo that are offering special rates to returning Belizeans, to Belizeans living here as well as some are giving to anybody who comes for the whole month of September. So they are really helping us out to promote this bicentennial year.”

If you would like a printed copy of the program, you can pick it up at the committee’s office at the old Customs building at Fort Point.

In case anyone is wondering what the status of the September

Celebrations would be if a new P.U.P. government is elected on August twenty seventh, party leader Said Musa is on record as saying that he sees no reason to alter the program in the event he is Prime Minister.

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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