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Festival of Light Sets Tone for Festive Season

Hundreds of patrons got a flavourful slice of Christmas cheer when the Cultural Development Foundation (CDF) hosted its annual Festival of Light Ceremony at Derek Walcott Square last week Thursday.

The ceremony, which has been hosted at that venue for many years on the eve of National Day, serves to ring in the Christmas season in a big way by highlighting various aspects of Saint Lucian tradition.

This year was no different!

Held under the theme, “A Creole Christmas”, organizers incorporated elements of Saint Lucian life into the proceedings — through music, dance, song, and drama. Sticking to the theme, there was even a Creole Santa on hand to give out presents and wish the children good tidings for the season.

The festivities began early in the evening with scores of lantern bearers in this year’s National Lantern Festival carrying their colourful lanterns along the procession that began on Laborie Street. Accompanied by stilt walkers, fire eaters and the jolly masquerade band, they made their way onto Jeremie Street, turning right onto Peynier Street, another right onto Micoud Street before assembling in Derek Walcott Square.

The hundreds of patrons gathered at Derek Walcott Square were addressed by Castries Mayor, Peterson Francis; Minister for Culture and the Creative Industries, Senator Fortuna Belrose; Castries Central MP, Sarah Flood-Beaubrun; and CDF’s Executive Director, Raymona Henry-Wynne.

During her brief remarks, Henry-Wynne said the much-anticipated ceremony aimed to demonstrate the spirit of Christmas peppered with the unique qualities that make us truly Saint Lucian. Bringing such qualities to the fore, she said, will continue to be of paramount importance on CDF’s mandate as the new decade begins.

“The CDF will be going into a new year with strength to build on our accomplishments and to consolidate our position,” Henry-Wynne said, while wishing everyone a festive season.

Meanwhile, Senator Belrose said National Day (renamed National Festival of Light and Renewal some years ago) places strong emphasis on light in our everyday lives. Belrose, who later joined 2019 Carnival Queen Wenia Verneuil, Mayor Peterson, MP Flood-Beaubrun and Henry-Wynne in switching on the decorative lights in Derek Walcott Square, said light remains a central theme in Saint Lucian society.

“For us Saint Lucians, this festival celebrates the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and the renewal of life,” Belrose noted. “It ushers in the Christmas season, which is a time of giving and sharing and, of course, celebrating.”

She continued: “Christmas begins with you. Let us remember that the spirit of caring and giving is what we’re here for.”

Prizes were awarded to the winners in this year’s National Lantern Festival which saw two new categories being introduced this year: the Peterson Francis People’s Choice Award, and the Dutch Lady Innovative Lantern.

Performances came from TC Brown, Nintus, Oshun, Total Praise Gospel Choir, Youth Aflame, Ronald Darius, to name a few of the artistes who made this year’s Festival of Light Ceremony another special one. They set the tone by performing vintage and contemporary Christmas songs, including songs made popular by treasured Saint Lucian icons such as Lucian Parrot and Mithy Pelay.

The ceremony ended with the colourful display of fireworks, with many onlookers capturing the moments on their cellphones.

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