The Queen's Park Savannah was awash with the national colours of red, white and black yesterday as thousands gathered to view the military parade to mark the country's 50th Independence Anniversary.
Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley, Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller, St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves and Caricom Secretary General, Ambassador Irwin Larocque, were among those in the audience.
Some spectators had arrived as early as 5 a.m to claim the best seats on the stands for a show that began just after 8 a.m, leaving others to jostle for space along the fenced perimeter to see the marching bands representing the different arms of the country's Defence Force.
While some presentations were given a sedate appreciation as they marched past President George Maxwell Richards, it was once again the Fire Service's presentation that earned the lion's share of the applause. That was until four Defence Force helicopters were seen coming in from the West.
Even some of the dignitaries joined in the eruption of the screaming, cheering ovation as the military helicopters hovered facing East, then turned in unison to give an obvious "eyes right" salute and then dipped their noses in a synchronised "curtsey" to the President.
Not to be outdone, an amalgamation of the various arms of the Defence Force presented arms to a soca medley, including "Pump yuh Flag" and "Real Unity" by Machel Montano, which had the crowd clapping, cheering and dancing. The parade ended with a 21- gun salute while the National Anthem was played to end the ceremony. Gonsalves described the display as "impressive".
Even Rowley was suitably impressed by the show of military pride but said the lack of planning made it difficult to get to the Savannah on time.
"It was very good, very nice. But somebody made a mess of the traffic and I had to walk in 'cause there was gridlock and I had to walk from way down the road," he said. With regard to the new additions to the line-up, including incorporating pan and tassa, Rowley said he was not surprised since pan and tassa were already in everything.
"It was the best one we have ever seen," one elderly woman said. Though she did not want to be named, she said she and her two other friends have attended the celebrations for years and found that incorporating music made the show more enjoyable.
One child, just two years old, could not stop talking about the helicopters, explaining to his patient grandfather again and again how they turned and flew.
"He had a lot of fun, you can see that right?" the man laughed. See Page 8.