Nine Nights Of Lights Expanded In Its Second Year
The Sion Hill Pan-Round-the-Neck players had arrived early. They had assembled themselves and practically retired the DJ as they filled the entire place with the rhythmic strains of Christmas music on their talking pans.
The audience was steadily building: single adults, couples, families with excited children, and foreigners from a variety of countries. Then the distribution of stick lights had begun, each child receiving one that could hang easily around the neck. The stage was set and the parade was ready to begin. The night was Wednesday, 21st December; the location was the Botanical Gardens; and the occasion, the ‘Steel Pan Night’ presentation in the ‘2016 Nine Nights of Lights’.
What followed was a sight to behold – an activity that all, both locals and visitors alike, will remember for a long time to come; one that had its participants excitedly talking. Beginning from the area of the Curator’s House, the Sion Hill steel band played as they travelled along the paved road in the Gardens. The procession were brought up by the eager followers of adults and children, many of whom, for the very first time, was able to experience a ‘jig’ behind a steel band – this one, of course, fitting in well with the spirit of the Christmas season.
That was only one night’s activity. This year, the National Parks, Rivers and Beaches Authority (NPRBA), which has responsibility for the Botanical Gardens, organized the second annual ‘Nine Nights of Lights’ at the Gardens. Last year’s activity functioned as a trial run, but this year a marked improvement was seen both in the quality and arrangement of the lighting and the entertainment offered.
On Opening Night, Thursday, 15th December, Hon. Cecil McKie, Minister of Tourism, Sports and Culture, under which the NPRBA falls, expressed his pleasure at what he saw. "I’m so happy to see so many of you turning out here this evening,” he said, "This Nine Nights of Lights activity surely has great potential.” He promised the audience that as the years go by, all will see an expansion of the festival at the Gardens. He lauded the organizers for the work they had put in to give the location such an excellent face, and wished that the activities and entertainment provided would be amenable to all.
The Nine Nights of Lights allowed for individuals and families to partake in activities like strolling and browsing, capturing of photos, bouncing castle jumping, and punch board guessing. It provided a drinks bar, and freshly prepared food was available for sale. The entertainment, which catered to total crowd participation, was themed each night, with involvement from Thursday 15th to Friday, 23rd December including: Opening Night; Caroling and Game Night; Dance Night; Gospel Night; Drumming and Storytelling Night; Movie Night; Steel Pan Night; Drama and Comedy Night and Final Night; where all great performances returned.
With the festival in the Garden catching on and providing activities between 6:00 and 9:00 pm nightly, the National Parks, Rivers and Beached Authority intends to continue its expansion in 2017. Visitors could expect many more exciting activities and interactive entertainment.
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