|Fireworks illuminate??the sky after the lights were turned on, yesterday, at Heroes Square, during the Annual Lighting Ceremony. (C.Pitt/BGIS)|
Hundreds of Barbadians converged at Heroes Square, the City, despite the heavy rains last evening, to attend the annual Lighting Ceremony which signalled the start of the island’s 45th Independence celebrations.
This year, Bridgetown was set ablaze with ultramarine and yellow lights by the hands of cricketing icon, Reverend Dr. Wes Hall, who flicked the switch just after 6:00 p.m.
Minister of Culture, Stephen Lashley, delivered the feature address and labelled the affair as one which Barbadians and visitors alike "look forward to in anticipation".
"It is a time when, more than any other time of the year, we feel a heightened sense of pride in Barbados and in things Barbadian. It is a time when we wear the blue, yellow and black, our national colours, anxious to declare to the world that we are Bajans," Minister Lashley boasted.
He disclosed that this year only 17 of the island’s 28 roundabouts would be illuminated and noted that "the sight of the beautifully lighted roundabouts as we drive around, are a source of great pleasure and inspiration."
The Culture Minister, however, alluded to the incidents of theft and vandalism which occurred at the various roundabouts each year during the month of November and urged Barbadians to report any such acts.
"Every year, public-spirited sponsors undertake to decorate these roundabouts. They do it not for themselves, or for any one element of our society. They do it for the enjoyment of all Barbadians.?? The roundabouts belong to each and every one of us, and we as a society should have enough pride in ourselves and in our country, and enough integrity, to respect them, and to do what is necessary to protect and preserve them," Mr. Lashley stated.
He further stressed that persons who were found guilty of destroying the decorations would be "brought to justice". "…If there is need for a special legislative regime of stiff penalties to act as a deterrent, then that is the course we would have to take," the Minister pointed out.
Mr. Lashley deemed the lighting up of Barbados during Independence as "a tradition that we must preserve" and stressed that "we must teach our young people that…Independence is a state of mind, a way of living, and one of the important characteristics of being independent is the acceptance of responsibility for our own lives, and for our country."