The Annual San Pedro celebrations honoring the Patron Saint Peter officially opened on Wednesday. Mistress of Ceremonies Kainie Manuel welcomed everyone and acknowledged special invited guests including Mayor of Orange Walk Town, Henry Castillo and Councilman Amanda Syphers of Henderson City, Nevada, USA.
After the National Anthem was sung and a prayer recited, Mayor Elsa Paz was invited to the podium for her Welcome Address. “A heartfelt welcome to everyone on this our annual celebration […] San Pedro has come a long way. Our forefathers were the pillars in the development of our island we owe it to them to keep moving ahead, always bearing in mind that what we do is for the love and betterment of our community. San Pedro has seen a thriving coconut industry when, abundant precious fruit was distributed throughout the country and even abroad, sustaining the residents of the once quaint and serene fishing village. The fishing industry that followed gave the residents of San Pedro an even bigger boost and today, we live in an era were tourism is everybody’s business. In the last quarter of a century, we have become the tourism Mecca of Belize and as such we have been able and continue to provide an abundance of jobs and opportunities to all Belizeans.”
Next to address the gathering was Key note speaker, Wilfredo Alamilla Sr., who took everyone back in time. He gave a detailed history of the industries up to the present. Mr. Alamilla expressed his utmost concern at the destruction of our valued resources and natural environment. “I have seen the two lives of San Pedro, the one before and the one now. The founders of the island were very intelligent people, who lived in peace and tranquility. The island was a natural paradise. Now, the mangroves are being cut down, there are not many fish and the reef has been sectioned off and made into reserves. […] Let’s feel proud of our community, today, tomorrow, and always. Pride start in the home – if we have strong, united families, we have a united town. If we have a united town, we have a united nation. Let’s instill the values in our children.”
Shortly after Honorable Manuel Heredia Jr. delivered the Vote of Thanks, fireworks flashed in the skies above the Old Football Field. Everyone exclaimed and smiles as the fireworks brightly lit the skies. The night’s celebrations ended with presentations from the San Pedro Dance Company.
Friday night was filled with amazing dance moves from Barbara’s Dance Group, as they took center stage and showed off their talent.
On Saturday night, the ones to express their talent where the San Pedro Dance Company with over 20 musical numbers. The rhythm changed from salsa, to ballet, to modern. With a little over an hour and a half of musical talent, the crowd certainly got their fill of dance.
Sunday was filled with daytime activities. The beach party was a grand success as was the first ever Dia de San Pedro Fishing Tournament. Boats lined up on the Ambergris Divers dock on both days of the competition bringing in their catch, while the crowd anxiously gathered round looking excitedly at what was brought in. The tournament was indeed a huge success. The grand winners are as follows: Top Boat winning $3,000 was boat Get Some captained by Dr. Adrian Heusner, second place went to JoDee captained by Captain Pete Graniel and third place went to Miss Y Jes captained by Captain Ivan Staines. Other prizes included: Biggest Wahoo – Angler Tony Gonzalez (Miss Y Jess); Biggest Dorado – Angler Jorge Varela (JoDee); Biggest Barracuda – Angler Jennie Staines (Freedom); Junior Angler – Ariel Valdez (Freedom); Top Female Angler – Jennie Staines (Freedom); Heaviest Tuna – Cheto Encalada (Get Some); Heaviest White Marline – Noland Michaels (Get Some). More prizes were awarded for the following: Family Boat – Hakuna Matata; Youngest Angler – Shadany Bradley ( Stacey); Smallest Boat – Chapter 11.
Sunday was also the day for the spectacular Día de San Pedro Bike Race. Months of training paid off for Andrew Vasquez as he cruised past the finish line first. Twelve contestants started the race but, only eight finished. Four had to drop out because of mechanical failures.
Vasquez completed the course in just under an hour. The race started at Central Park and wove through town, then went to the South end of the island to Boca Ciega. The cyclists had to complete two laps of the course, each time flying past cheering fans all along the route.
The course turned out to be treacherous as taxis and golf carts presented major obstacles for the high-speed athletes. Vasquez even crashed twice trying to avoid vehicles. Nigel Belisle was completely thrown from his bike after crushing his front tire against a taxi cab near the WASA plant.
Ultimately, Vasquez claimed first place and the $300 cash prize and the first place trophy. Other trophy winners were: Manuel Caliz, second place winning $200; Jose Enrique Flores third place and $100; Luis Montejo, fourth place and Raul Antonio Begaran claimed the fifth place trophy. Vasquez won the first and third station prizes which were a $100 certificate for shipping from MASH Shipping and gift certificates from Los Caminantes, and Divina Providencia. Caliz won a tool set from Castillo’s Hardware for claiming the second station prize.
San Pedro Town Councilor Joe Elijio coordinated the event. He said the race was a success thanks to the support from the community. Sponsors included: Mr. Bob Campbell, Castillo’s Hardware, E & L Gas, Los Caminates and Divina Providencia. Elijio also wanted to the thank all of the volunteers including the Fire, Police and Traffic Departments.
Bike race enthusiasts need not wait long for the next bike competition on “La Isla Bonita”. Elijio is working with the Costa Maya Committee for a bike race during that upcoming celebration in August.
All in all every one had a wonderful time; all families took full advantage of the mechanical rides available on the field. Some of the rides were new and proved to be a lot of fun for those adventurous enough to try them. See you for the 2006 Dia de San Pedro Festivities!