The first O’Donnell McIntosh Snapper Fishing Tournament and Independence Festival for Fire Road took place on July 12-14 at the Fire Road Public Bay. Ashley Clarke was the moderator for the opening ceremony, which began with a performance from a group of young praise dancers.
Following the opening prayer by Leslie Cornish, Eric Collie Sr. welcomed everyone to the grand celebration and to a community that makes everyone feel at home. He declared that Fire Road has some of the best people in The Bahamas particularly in the sporting arena with world-class athletes like Savatheda Fynes and Troy McIntosh.
“Then you have some of the best bonefishers and the fishermen around here,” he boasted. “And I ain’ calling no name ‘cause I don’t want take no blame.”
Administrator Neil Campbell applauded the commitment of the committee and executive members for the festival. He extended his support to the members in making the event a bigger and better one in the years to come.
Clarke welcomed Ronald Bootle and O’Donald McIntosh to carry out the “Did You Know?” segment of the festival. McIntosh said he was proud to see where they came from and where they are now.
“I wonder if anyone knows how Fire Road got its name,” McIntosh questioned. “My father and grandfather told me that one time they had a fire, and in those days you didn’t have fire engines. All the town got together as one and made a fire road to prevent it from coming into the town.
“And that’s how Fire Road got its name – Fire Road.”
He recalled how different his childhood days were because everyone was united and a spirit of love prevailed. They would fly kites, spin tops or shoot marbles together. Children would have to walk to school, and if it rained, they had no choice but to walk in the water.
He said that only one person drove a car in the community back then. Although the car was owned by a Mr. Russell from Crown Haven, Mr. Freddie Burrows was the driver. Because there was no road to the airport, Mr. Burrows had to walk from Fire Road to Treasure Cay Airport to drive the taxi that day and then walk back home at night.
Turning his attention back to the event, he had one more thing to say.
“We fall so far apart because there is nothing to really bring us together, so we thought that something like this would bring us together,” he reflected.
In his speech, Ejnar Cornish also recalled fond memories of Fire Road. He said that because of the proximity of Cooper’s Town and Fire Road many of the people are related to each other. Cornish encouraged his colleagues to come together to assist the young people in bringing the community together.
One of the highlights of the festival was the awards presentation for the North Abaco Baseball Team. Craig Kemp, president of the Bahamas Baseball Federation (BBF), said it was his first visit to the community; however, his emphasis was on the young people. He was joined by Teddy Sweeting, BBF Secretary General, who assisted him with the distribution of medals to the outstanding players and their coaches.
“I could tell you that you should be very proud of these young men here tonight,” Kemp said. “It is not easy by any form of imagination to come to our nationals where we have over 800 kids competing from all over the country in six age groups, and you have nine age teams or island in the 11-12 age group performing. Your young men right here from Fire Road would have come third out of nine islands.”
Kemp said it speaks well of the community as he commended Nigel Bootle for his dedication and consistency in being a coach and father figure to the boys. In his eight years as president, Kemp said it was his first time ever taking the liberty to come to a Family Island to make a special presentation.
The longest living members of Fire Road were also given recognition for their contributions. Savatheda Fynes read the biography of Ethilee Lewis, 94, and the oldest living female in Fire Road. The biography of oldest living male, Rev. Eulin McIntosh, 79, was also read. Family members collected presentations from the committee on the honourees’ behalf.
That weekend, New Direction Gospel group performed in a gospel concert at the site. The rest of the weekend was set aside for the fishing tournament and other outdoor activities, but the rain cancelled the remainder of the festival. Committee member Carolee Russell said that there are plans to organize an event for the Oct .12 weekend.
“It was a success that Friday night,” Russell said. “We had planned for a live band with a fashion and talent show but it rained, so we will continue the fishing tournament in October.”
In the meantime, Russell said the committee expects to organize a fish fry for August Monday, but nothing was confirmed as yet.