PHILIPSBURG--Caretaker Prime Minister Wycliffe Smith announced on Wednesday the official programme for St. Maarten/St. Martin Day, which this year falls on Monday, November 11. The theme for this year’s celebrations is, “We Story.”
The official programme opens with the One Voice Youth Concert at Festival Village on Friday, November 8, at 6:00pm. This concert will showcase “the best talent our young people have to offer,” said Smith.
A spiritual “jollification” will be held at Festival Village on Sunday, November 10, at 4:30pm. This event will feature choirs, bands and soloists performing praise and worship songs and gospel music.
St. Maarten/St. Martin Day starts with an ecumenical service at Philipsburg Methodist Church at 7:00am. This will be followed by a wreath-laying ceremony at the Cole Bay/Bellevue border monument.
The St. Maarten Little League Ballpark will host traditional culture sport games from 10:00am until 3:00pm, said Smith.
After the wreath-laying ceremony, there will be a uniformed service parade on Front Street in Philipsburg, which feature uniformed personnel of both the French- and Dutch-sides. Dignitaries from both sides of the island will watch the parade as they pass in front of the Philipsburg courthouse.
The activities shift to the Festival Village at 11:15am. Here St. Maarten officials and their French-side counterparts will give several speeches followed by a toast.
A time capsule, which was buried under the old government administration building on November 11, 1975, will be opened during this part of the programme.
The old government administration building was badly damaged during Hurricane Irma in 2017 and is slated to be demolished, said Smith. According to him, government wanted to open the capsule before the building’s demolition.
Smith revealed that only two persons had the clues as to where the capsule was buried. Both persons are affiliated with the Department of Archives.
Government does not know what has been placed inside the time capsule, according to Smith. Therefore, he urges persons to come out and witness the unveiling of the time capsule’s secret contents.
The grand St. Maarten/St. Martin cultural parade will begin at 3:00pm at John Cooper Jose Lake Sr. Ballpark at 3:00pm. It will end at Festival Village.
The final activity of the official programme will be a concert at Festival Village at 6:00pm Monday. This concert is set to feature performances by 12 former calypso monarchs, as well as other bands, choirs and orchestras.
All the official activities are free-of-charge, said Smith.
“[The activities – Ed.] all come together to tell ‘We Story.’ That is the story of St. Maarten/St. Martin. It is a story filled with a rich and beautiful cultural and historical heritage, built on the foundation of all our ancestors.
“We story is ram goat show in Colombier, singing and dancing in Cole Bay and domino playing in St. Peters and the Quarters. We story is bush tea with arrowroot porridge and Johnny cake in the morning, fish and fungee for lunch and rice and peas with chicken and vegetables for dinner. We story is families going to church together on Sundays, sports in the afternoons and jollification with the neighbours. That is we story,” said Smith on Wednesday.
Besides the official activities, others are being organised around the island as well, said Smith.
Caretaker Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT) Minister Stuart Johnson said more than 370 car flags will be distributed to civil servants working in the ministry of TEATT so they can “proudly display” the St. Maarten flag.
Smith said schools will be celebrating St. Maarten/St. Martin Day in various ways on Friday, November 8. The staff and students of several public schools will meet at L.B. Scott Sports Auditorium for a cultural programme, after which they will march through Philipsburg.
Smith urges all persons to support activities celebrating St. Maarten/St. Martin Day and to wear traditional dress or the colours of the flag. He also wishes all persons “a happy St. Maarten/St. Martin Day.”