THE Union Jack came down quicker than expected. The Trinidad and Tobago national flag was raised before time.
But the National Multicultural Extravaganza and Re-enactment of the 1962 Independence at Woodford Square, Port of Spain, on Thursday night otherwise went on without a hitch.
Woodford Square had undergone a massive face-lift in order to host the event, which the public was allowed to attend free of charge.
Police and security officers were placed at the entrances of Woodford Square and attendees were searched. No glass bottles or weapons were allowed.
Yellow bands were placed on the wrists of those successful in entering the security checkpoints open to the public.
Bleachers were placed outside Woodford Square for those unable to enter.
The biggest transformation inside the venue was the makeover given to the fountain located in the heart of Woodford Square.
The fountain received a new paint job and scaffolding was placed around the periphery.
Lights connected at the top of the scaffolding shone on the fountain.
Two stages were constructed inside Woodford Square—one in the northern section in front of the Old Library, and the other in front of the western section in front of the Red House.
Two flag poles were placed at the western side of the larger stage.
Cultural items took place at varying times on the two stages.
Large screens were placed at strategic points around the venue, one of them facing the outside bleachers.
The re-enactment of August 31, 1962, where the Union Flag was lowered and the Trinidad and Tobago national flag raised for the first time began around 11.35 p.m.
The re-enactment was originally scheduled on the programme to start at 11.45 p.m.
Personnel from the Coast Guard and the Regiment formed the hoisting party for the flags.
Actors portraying the key figures at that time, including deceased former prime minister Dr Eric Williams, entered the area.
The raising of the Union Jack was announced by the master of ceremonies.
Attendees looked on as the hoisting party raised the Union Jack, and a collective gasp was heard when the flag slid back down as soon as it reached the top. However, some moments later, the master of ceremonies announced the lowering of the Union Jack.
Around 11.47 p.m., Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar walked down to the area where the re-enactment was taking place and was presented with the Trinidad and Tobago national flag.
This was then handed over to an official of the Regiment, who then handed it over to the hoisting party.
Around 11.49 p.m., the Trinidad and Tobago national flag was placed on the rope to be raised.
There was a delay as the two military personnel stood motionless.
The master of ceremonies said the actual raising of the flag would take place at midnight, which prompted a collective groan by the attendees.
Eventually the flag was raised at 11.54 p.m., to loud applause.
Attendees stood at attention and sang the national anthem when it was played.
The official speeches made by Williams, The Princess Royal, the Queen's representative at the celebrations, and opposition leader Dr Rudranath Capildeo 50 years ago were read by the respective actors.
President of the Inter-Religious Organisation Brother Harrypersad Maharaj said a prayer for the nation.
President George Maxwell Richards and Persad-Bissessar both gave speeches.
Mavis John performed "God Bless Our Nation" and everyone sang along.