As a much-anticipated event each year, the 13th Annual Abaco Christmas Festival attracted hundreds of people to BAIC Park on Dec. 3.
Leading up to the Official Opening Ceremony, a liturgical dance was performed by two female students from J.A. Pinder Primary School. They danced to André Crouch’s gospel song – “Let the Church Say Amen.”
Next, the Abaco Central High School (ACH) Male Ensemble played a collection of old-time Christmas favourites under the direction of Jamal McIntosh, ACH music teacher.
Three students from Central Abaco Primary School – J’Shon Sands, Tianna Bootle and Shaleon Alexander – sang the National Anthem to begin the Official Opening Ceremony with Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Perry Christie and a host of government officials in attendance.
Wynsome Ferguson, manager of the Abaco Tourist Office, delivered welcoming remarks.
“Many of you travelled long distances to be here today, and it serves to remind us how important this festival has become,” Ferguson said. “Thank you all for sharing this day with us.”
She invited those in attendance to take the day off to forget about the challenges they were faced with all year, to get in the mood of giving and receiving gifts, for the children to enjoy what was in store for them courtesy of their partners and sponsors, and to browse the booths of vendors, who had gone all out to prepare native food as well arts and crafts for those shopping for Christmas gifts.
The first selection on the program was by a lively group of students from Hope Town School. They were dressed in vivid splashes of colourful, Androsian print as they formed a semi-circle to entertain the audience with old-time Bahamian songs like “Brown Girl in the Ring”, “Going to Cat Island,” and “Mama Don’t Want No Rake n’ Scrapin’ in Here”. Their nostalgic performance ended with the singing of “Feliz Navidad.”
MP for Central / South Abaco, Edison Key, brought greetings noting that this is the time of year for Bahamians to show love and to extend help to their brothers and sisters who are in need. Key also expressed gratitude to the PLP government for all they have accomplished as he acknowledged pride in serving under both the PLP and FNM governments.
Central Abaco Primary’s school choir sang a Christmas selection before remarks were given by MP for North Abaco – Renardo Curry.
As he surveyed the crowd, Curry commented on his love for seeing people come together as one because we have so much to be grateful for as a country. He commended the Abaco Christmas Festival committee members along with the Abaco Tourist Office for their organization of the festival.
Before stepping offstage, Curry also introduced Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Perry Christie, who was there to give the keynote address.
In his remarks, Prime Minister Christie shared how much he loved to see the children who were performing that day because they brought back happy childhood memories for him. He also views the holiday season as a special time.
“This is a special time in Abaco,” Prime Minister Christie declared. “This is a time for peace and goodwill. Enjoy yourselves because we are one under God’s heaven, we sing the same songs to commemorate the same God, and our commitment to being our brother’s keeper does not change.”
He concluded his remarks by thanking the committee members for their organization of the Christmas festival, to their partners and to all of those in attendance before declaring that the festival was officially opened.
Brenda Sawyer, co-chairperson of the Abaco Christmas Festival, gave the vote of thanks.
Other noteworthy highlights of the Christmas festival were: the Abaco Rangers Drill; the appearance of Santa Claus; distribution of more than 1,000 gifts to children compliments of Baker’s Bay Golf & Ocean Club; the Royal Bahamas Police Force Marching Band and Royal Bahamas Police Pop Band; the official tree lighting by Prime Minister Christie; entertainment by Rashad Reckley better known as the Sax Man, New Entry Band, New Wave Dancers, and the Junkanoo Parade by students of Forest Heights Academy.