By anguillian December 25, 2017 11:45 Updated


Given the devastation wrought on Anguilla and its electricity infrastructure, by Hurricane Irma, and the assumed difficulty to obtain the necessary funding, it is a most welcome achievement that the Lion’s Community was able to hold this year’s Christmas Tree-lighting in The Valley.

The event, under the theme “Let’s have a Bright & Wonderful Christmas”, commenced on Thursday evening, December 14, with the opening ceremony at the historic Trough – where the lighted tamarind tree and the line of mahogany trees are still in tatters from the destructive winds of Hurricane Irma. While the other trees are not lighted, they bear the sponsorship signs of a number of business places. Midway, on the sidewalk, is an arch-shaped tunnel of lights through which pedestrians delight to walk.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Ms Avenella Griffith, a member of the Lions Club, said in part: “Having a bright and wonderful Christmas in the same year of experiencing Irma, is one major thing that we must do,” she stated. “Individually and collectively we must decide that big, bad things, in this case, Irma, will make us better and not bitter.”

She stressed that as far as the Lions Community was concerned, “we will not get bitter. We will get better. It is a mind-set that we must be intentional about – even though the winds of Irma clocked over 200 miles per hour, and the damage was catastrophic, bitterness is still not an option for us. Laying down and giving up is not an Anguillian [way of life] neither does having a dull and horrible Christmas. We will use what we have and what we don’t have we will do without and have a bright and wonderful Christmas.”

Acting Governor, Mr. Perin Bradley, stated: “The lighting of the Christmas Tree has grown into a tradition marking the festive season here in Anguilla. We ought to commend the Lions Community for taking on this responsibility annually. I still cannot get use to how amazing the lights look as you drive along Coronation Avenue, and I am looking forward to seeing the trees lit up again this year.

“This reminds me that we must give sincere thanks to ANGLEC for the fantastic job it has been doing in endeavouring to get everywhere lit up for Christmas. Christmas is a special period for all of us. It is a time of merriment, renewal of family bonds and of hope. My high hope is that you will use this season to reconnect with your friends and family, focusing on the traditions which make Christmas special to each of you. This is my second time delivering remarks for this special occasion. I recall that last year I spoke about how quickly time went by and the need for us to reflect and set goals for the New Year.

“Today, those sentiments are even more relevant given the impact of Hurricane Irma. We should all reflect on how fortunate we are to be here to celebrate. In the same vein, I urge all to keep those who are less fortunate in our minds and hearts this holiday season…”

Ms. Avon Carty, Senior Programme Officer, spoke on behalf of the Department of Youth and Culture. “The lighting of the Christmas Tree, over the past years, has become for many of us the official start of Christmas,” she said. “We all look forward to this event with great anticipation wondering what the community genius in this group of hard-working persons will give us each year.”

Ms Carty went on: “This year’s Christmas Tree lighting is even more special given the hammering that many of us, and our beloved island, took from Irma. I don’t know about you, but I will admit that I really was not expecting to have a Christmas Tree lighting by the Trough this year. However, my expectations have already been exceeded. I am thrilled to bits.”

Commissioner of Police, Mr. Paul Morrison, said: “I would like to thank the Lions Community for putting on this event and for trying to give a semblance of normalcy to a period that has been far from normal in this island. For me, who was here for two years, one thing that stands out is that the strength of any country, and any organisation, is the resilience of its people to respond in the time of crisis. I am amazed by some of the stories of hard work people have done during and immediately after Irma – especially at the hospital, the prison and within the police force, to maintain services for the public and law and order. It has been a tremendous effort. This is the largest crowd that I have seen at the start of the Christmas season in the three Christmases I have served in Anguilla.”

Commissioner Morrison further said: “Although the police force has been very successful during 2017, and we have had significant reductions in robberies and thefts, this is not a time for complacency. You still need to be vigilant and protect your valuables. This is a time of having fun and enjoyment. However, there are persons in the community who seek opportunities to ruin that enjoyment by breaking into homes and stealing property. I urge you to be extra vigilant at this time.”

The switch for the Christmas lighting was turned on by the Minister of Infrastructure, Mr. Curtis Richardson. “As Minister of Infrastructure, I have found it a delight to work in that position for the last two and a half years. But especially in the last one hundred days, we have been significantly tested here in Anguilla regarding our electricity plant,” he told his listeners. “I would like all of you to give a special round of applause to all of the people [electricity workers] who really made a serious effort to help us to turn around a six-month projected time to just a little over three months to restore our electricity….

“I am happy to report to you, the people of Anguilla, that we will be able to keep our pledge that, for this Christmas season, at least over 95 percent of Anguilla will have a restoration of electricity. Give ANGLEC a round of applause that we were able to restore electricity from Scrub Island all the way to Little Anguillita – and that is a tremendous job. I want to thank the Manager, Mr. David Gumbs, and his team at ANGLEC; the Ministers of Government who worked with me, the Deputy Governor and the British Government which stood by us by bringing in a team from Canada to the tune of some two million dollars. That was extremely helpful in enabling us to deliver the electricity restoration programme for Christmas. Put your hands together also for the teams which came in from the Caribbean islands.”

The Minister added: “I think this Christmas Tree lighting demonstrates the kind of resilience we need in Anguilla. It is a symbol of hope that no matter what we go through in life, we can return to a sense of normalcy and forge ahead to a brighter and better day.”

The opening ceremony was moderated by Ms. Carencia Rouse, a young professional in the Department of Environment. Following that there was the commencement of various activities which will continue until January 6, climaxing with an ANGLEC’s night of Lights and a closing ceremony.

By anguillian December 25, 2017 11:45 Updated


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