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By Elesha George

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The Independence Day Food Fair, the National Youth Rally and the Independence Fashion Show are among major events that have been cancelled for this year’s Independence celebrations.

Director of National Festivals, Petley O’Keiffe, told Observerthat Cabinet recently agreed to scale down the events for the observance of the 39th anniversary of Independence, so that the activities did not violate the mandatory state regulations established to reduce the spread of Covid-19.

“Currently, that is highly unlikely that that event is going to happen,” O’Keiffe said of the eagerly anticipated food fair.

As for the National Youth Rally, she explained that “with the number of schoolchildren and spectators, that will be very difficult to have”.

The Festivals of Choirs and the Independence Fashion Show have also been cancelled.

Instead, plans will include a virtual calypso competition and smaller activities borne out of a collaboration with other government departments. 

“We’re starting off the Independence with the church service, we have the Heroes Day wreath-laying, we will also do the Golden Age and the Ceremonial Parade,” the director shared, adding that the Festivals Commission is engaged in some collaboration with some other government departments that would have otherwise hosted youth-based events.

Less people will be invited to attend the upcoming events. This year’s events are expected to be live streamed – cutting down significantly on the number of people physically at the grounds.

According to O’Keiffe, the agency wants to reduce the number of persons that would be present, particularly at the Ceremonial Parade. This includes the platoons for the ceremony, where a reduced number of people will be invited along with the honorees.

“This year, it’s going to be in the evening which is something that we were looking forward to prior to Covid and we’re still going to do it at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium,” the director shared.

In planning for the yearly celebration, O’Keiffe said the festivals team had prepared for all eventualities, taking into account that lockdown measures would likely remain as the pandemic lingers on.

File photo of youth rally
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