THE Independence Grand Gala, which will be the showpiece of the Golden Jubilee celebrations, promises to be a spectacular affair.
Acting Executive Director of the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) Delroy Gordon said that the three-and-a-half-hour-long show, to be held at the National Arena, will be full of many "wow" moments.
The grand gala, over the years, has been the most highly anticipated event on the Independence calendar, featuring some of the very best performances of popular Jamaican culture and traditional folk forms. This year the excitement quotient will be stepped up significantly for what Gordon told JIS News will be "the mother of all Grand Galas".
"In terms of this year being Jamaica's 50th, one can understand and appreciate that all stops are pulled to ensure that we have a gala befitting the Golden Jubilee," Gordon said.
Dubbed: 'Tributes In Gold', the gala will highlight the significant achievements of the nation over the past 50 years, which will serve as an inspiration to a 'Nation On A Mission'.
It will feature all the pomp and pageantry of past galas and some surprises. While Gordon has kept much of the details close to his chest, he revealed that more than 2,000 performers have been recruited from schools and communities, who are in rehearsals for the special day, when they will bring the event to life.
The event will be presented in three acts — 'Eternal Father, Bless Our Land'; 'Natural Mystic'; and 'Tomorrow's People', and will feature dancing, choral and orchestral music, popular entertainers, giant-screen video projections, colourful costumes, audience participation, and scintillating pyrotechnic and fireworks displays.
Jambiz International, which has been producing the Grand Gala since 2008, and has received much praise for the quality of those events, was awarded a $70-million contract to produce this year's show.
Principal Director of Culture in the Ministry of Youth and Culture Sydney Bartley described the Grand Gala as the high point of the Independence celebrations over the years. "It provides an opportunity for people to express their patriotism, commitment and enthusiasm. When you look into the crowd and see the people's faces there is such pride in their eyes. There is a glow."
He added: "It brings out togetherness among the people and it is wonderful to see everybody shouting, cheering, singing, dancing, and it feels good."
While the gala is free to the public, patrons will be required to have tickets to get inside the National Stadium to see the event live. Jamaicans at home and abroad are keeping their fingers crossed that they will be among those inside the 35,000-capacity venue on August 6. Hyacinth Johnson is one such person. In the past, she has been with her two children to the gala and found it to be very exciting. "I liked the fireworks and I am looking to even more excitement this year," she said.
Antoinette Beckford, on the other hand, has never been to a Grand Gala but has watched it on television in the past and is hoping to see it live this year. "It is always very exciting. I love to see the costumes and the groups, and this year I want to see it live."
Gordon told JIS News that the ticket outlets will be publicised a week or two before the gala. He said that, in order to compensate for those who will not be able to make it inside the National Stadium, "we are going to be linking all 14 parishes with what is happening in Kingston, which is going to be a part of the Golden Jubilee celebrations, and Grand Gala is going to be a part of that".
"Persons in rural parishes will be able to view what is happening via big screens that are going to be established in town squares and at various points of interest across the island and it is going to be beamed across the diaspora," Gordon said.
The JCDC boss said special arrangements are being made for persons to park their vehicles at designated areas and a shuttle service will be in effect to transport them to the National Stadium. Private security will also be in place to complement that provided by the JCF to secure persons and property.