Belize at 23 – Free, Engaging & Embracing her People

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 14, No. 34            October 7, 2004

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On September 21st, Central Park was filled to capacity with ecstatic citizens enjoying the nation’s 23rd Independence. Residents of "La Isla Bonita" took pride in showing their patriotism celebrating this year’s festivities. Many considered it as "one of the best ever!"

   The San Pedro Town Council took time to plan a week full of activities for island residents to enjoy. The events included a Social Studies Contest, a Spelling Bee, a San Pedro Dance Company Extravaganza, and a Children’s Talent Show, all leading to the block party held on the 20th.

   Island Schools took part in the Spelling Bee with San Pedro Roman Catholic School student Judith Azueta taking first place, and New Horizon Academy’s Pedro Ash and Gabriella Miranda taking second and third place, respectively. In the Social Studies Contest, Island Academy student Stefan Solorzano taking first place, Lydia’s Institute of Fine Education student Irvin Pou winning second place, and New Horizon Academy’s Gabriel Miranda taking third place. A well-attended Talent Show featured songs, dances and skits all performed by island school children. The following night, the Leon Coldero concert prompted everyone to their feet with lively and upbeat music. Colors, music and well-choreographed moves were displayed by the ever-entertaining San Pedro Dance Company, as well.

   On the eve of Belize’s independence, Monday, September 20th the festivities began on Front Street with the now popular Block Party. The entire length of Barrier Reef Drive was blocked to vehicular traffic and was transformed into "party central" with bars and restaurants aiming to serve the enormous crowds. Business establishments from around the island temporarily "camped" on the street supplying locals and visitors with cold drinks and tasty treats, "bocas" and meals. Prior to the official ceremonies, local dance groups entertained the flock of people gathered at Central Park for the countdown of Belize’s 23rd anniversary.

   Miss San Pedro 2004-2005 Roxanna Bradley arrived at Central Park, joined by the lovely young ladies of the San Pedro Dance Company. The large crowd then witnessed the arrival of Mayor Elsa Paz and the San Pedro Town Councilors, followed by Area Representative Manuel Heredia Jr., and local Justices of the Peace and Commissioners of the Supreme Court. Just minutes before midnight, The Belize Defense Force made its grand entrance. Mayor Paz and Area Representative Heredia then performed an official inspection of the Guard of Honor before the raising of the Belizean flag as the national anthem was played. Mayor Paz then took center stage and announced the 23rd anniversary of Belize’s independence. Thunderous applause and loud cheers followed the tune of "Que Viva Belice" (long live Belize) as amazing, breathtaking and colorful fireworks, provided by Barry Bowen illuminated the sky. Belizeans once again celebrated their independence from Britain as the party resumed on Barrier Reef Drive until the wee hours of the morning.

   On Tuesday afternoon, the festivities continued as Mayor Paz, Area Representative Manuel Heredia Jr. and People’s United Party Representative, Patty Arceo, held a short ceremony at Central Park where various speeches were given. It was then jump-up time through the main streets of San Pedro as the Grand Parade began. Numerous groups and floats joined in the celebration with colorful costumes and participants filled with patriotic spirit. St. Peter’s Primary and High School won first place and a prize of $400. Second place went to Isla Bonita Elementary with a cash prize of $250, with third place going to The Ambergris Jade Museum, who won $150 cash. In the Best Organized Group category, ABC Pre-School took first place with a prize of $350, second place went to Mel & Mel’s Group who won $250 cash, and third place was won by San Pedro High School with a $100 cash prize. Loud cheers and festive music echoed throughout the streets of San Pedro Town as celebrations went on all day long.

   A big "thumbs up" to the San Pedro Town Council, the organizers, sponsors and participants for making this year’s September Celebrations a grand success!



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