Fire steals show
By Darcel Choy Saturday, September 1 2012
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FLAG DISPLAY: A National Air Guard helicopter proudly displays the national flag during a fly pass at yesterday's parade. ...
The display of new vehicles belonging to the TT Fire Service and the bowing helicopters were the showstoppers at yesterday’s 50th Anniversary Independence Day Parade at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain.
Indeed, thousands of persons dressed in red, white and black who gathered at the Savannah cheered loudly during the mobile drive pass when they saw what seemed to be the new highly specialised vehicles belonging to the fire service. The vehicles included vans and fire trucks ranging in different sizes. Usually, the military might of the army is showcased, but this year it was not, as less Defence Force vehicles were showcased.
Another highlight for spectators was the fly pass, where three helicopters flew over the grassy area of the Savannah, hovered for a few minutes, then turned to face the crowd and bowed. The crowd went into a frenzy, and loud screams were heard as those who were sitting stood up to applaud.
Earlier, three other helicopters belonging to the National Air Guard flew over the parade while another flew lower than the others while the national flag hung from below the aircraft. Noticeably absent were the usual winged aircraft, but they were not missed as spectators were enthralled by the helicopters.
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, dressed in a cream hat and cream suit, looked on and applauded at the presentation before her.
Specially invited guests also looking on included Jamaica’s Prime Minister, Portia Simpson Miller, St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves and other regional government officials. Also in attendance were members of the Opposition, including Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley and MPs Nileung Hypolite and Donna Cox.
The parade began at about 8 am and members of various arms of the protective services units marched along the parade route and saluted President George Maxwell Richards.
Following the different passes, the Defence Force performed a precision drill to songs sung by Lord Nelson and Machel Montano. They twirled their weapons while showcasing the different uniforms that were worn in the earlier years. Also taking part in the parade were officers from the Red Cross Society and the St John’s Ambulance Brigade.
The Defence Force band also entertained the crowd with steelpan, but noticeably new to the parade was a non-military band. Young members of Santa Cruz Panjammers and Sagicor Exodus were the first civilians to be part of an Independence Parade. They learnt drill steps a few weeks before in preparation for yesterday, but no one would have guessed as they executed the steps well while they played the steelpan and their tassa drums.
The parade ended with a 21-gun salute, which was punctuated with laughter throughout the savannah as a dog was seen scampering for safety to get away from the noise.
When Newsday spoke to a few spectators, they said they thoroughly enjoyed the presentation.
Neil Jagessar, who attended the parade with his four-year-old grand daughter, said the fire service drill was his favourite part of the parade.
“They really came out good this year. Usually it’s the army that stands out, but this year it was fire,” he said. Wendy-Ann Thompson, another spectator, said it was her first time attending a parade and she really enjoyed it.
“It was great and I know that I will be coming back next year and I will bring my family with me to enjoy, because you don’t really know what you are missing when you watch it on television. This was a definitely a great experience for me,” she said. Afterwards, the parade took to the streets of Port-of-Spain and ended at King George V Park in St Clair, a break from tradition as it usually ends at the Police Academy in St James.