The San Pedro International Sea & Air Festival committee met for the last time on Monday, December 15, 1997. On the committee's agenda was a report of the unfinished business of the 1997 festival which included finalizing their decision with regard to making a contribution to the community from the proceeds of the successful festival. It was unanimously decided that $10,000 will be spent to improve the field on which the festival and other community events take place. The low spots at the western end of the field need to be filled; the fence is badly broken and almost non existent in some places and there is a need for better bathroom facilities. Nando Trejo and Victoria Collins are to get estimates on the cost of fencing and will report at the next meeting.
The most challenging item on the agenda was changing the name of the festival. The Sea & Air Festival got its name in 1992 when its organizers envisioned an event that would attract visitors who would come in yachts, boats, and private planes to enjoy a musical extravaganza on the island of Ambergris Caye. The organizers were looking for a way to assist the town and the country of Belize economically, and planned the festival in July or early August when tourism was slow. Through contacts with business people and government officials in the neighboring countries entertainers were arranged to appear. The festival was held at the R.C. School. (This was before the 5-A-Side Court was constructed.) Mexico Night and Guatemala Night were held at the SunBreeze Hotel and Ramon's. El Salvador, Honduras and Belize Night took place at the festival grounds. In 1992 the Mundo Maya organization was also founded and as it turned out, San Pedro actually hosted the first, (and only festival to date) that celebrates the Maya heritage of the five countries. Over the years the festival has grown and includes cultural presentation as well as the best bands from each country and features the appearance of an internationally known Caribbean musical group. The festival is now a six day extravaganza.
Two years ago, in order to attract contestants to compete in the Miss Sea & Air Festival Pageant, the organizers changed the name and the criteria of the pageant. "La Reina de la Costa Maya Internacional" was held. Pageant officials in the five countries now assist in selecting a candidate to send to San Pedro to compete for the title. The pageant is also the only one of its kind and has achieved international recognition for Belize.
Committee members have had slight difficulties over the years explaining the name of the festival. "Sea & Air" what does it mean? And so its history had to be explained. The change of name of the festival is not intended to take away from the history, but to give the outstanding event a name that identifies it appropriately. The name change to SAN PEDRO'S INTERNATIONAL COSTA MAYA FESTIVAL is particularly fitting as all countries enjoy the Maya Coast and next month Belize takes the presidency of the Mundo Maya and the secretariat will be located in Belize.
The first planning meeting of San Pedro's International Costa Maya Festival will take place Thursday, January 22, 1998 at 7:30 p.m. at the Town Hall. All are welcome. In order to plan the 1998 event which will for the first time have a theme - 1848 to 1998 - Celebrating the 150th Birthday of San Pedro, readers of the San Pedro Sun are asked to complete a questionnaire to assist the committee with planning the event.
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