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‘Proud to be Bermudian’

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43rd Bermuda Day Parade: Gombeys dance down Front Street as Bermuda turned out in force to celebrate Bermuda Day. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Expectant crowds thronged Hamilton from early yesterday — with a few even getting set up the night before — eager to welcome back the festivities of Bermuda Day.

Speaking well before the first Bermuda Day Parade since 2019 got under way, revellers described the same feeling: it’s back.

“It’s good to be proud to be Bermudian — I’ve been a lot of places but I’d never give up home,” said spectator Ross Burchall.

43rd Bermuda Day Parade: PHC Majorettes and Drum Corps (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Mr Burchall said he was a yearly attendee at the annual celebration, with the exception of the past few years marred by the pandemic.

He added: “It’s traditional, even though they’ve changed the day from May 24.”

Switching the holiday to the fourth Friday in May happened in 2019 for a more tourist-friendly long weekend, and Mr Burchall noted a healthy turnout of visitors.

“Everybody’s happy and it’s nice to see everybody together,” he added. “That’s what makes it a beautiful day.”

Mr Burchall, who turns 77 in ten days, said he last ran the half marathon in 1988, and that for him Bermuda Day was now about enjoying community.

43rd Bermuda Day Parade: The Wisdom of Togetherness (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Maxine Smith, sitting next to him on Front Street, said it was “beautiful having it back — the Gombeys, majorettes, floats, the bike riders . . . all of it”.

Among visitors was Debra Schwartz from New Jersey.

She was originally booked to see Bermuda for a second time last month.

But the trip got delayed after her husband Bob was found to have residual Covid-19.

She told The Royal Gazette: “We were excited to be here for Easter, but when we found out what was happening this week — this is so much better.”

43rd Bermuda Day Parade: Bermuda Gymnastics Assciation (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Lined with tents and thumping with music, Front Street at noon had the buzz of an island happy to regain its traditional opening of summer.

Earlette Stephens, serving Ms Schwartz a drink from Ashley’s Lemonade Stand, said she had been “surprised how many people were out so nice and early” — with tourist numbers boosted by two cruise ships in port at Dockyard.

Around the corner on Court Street, Katiuska Durrant and Isis Wellman awaited the parade from chairs on the sidewalk.

Both said they were Bermuda Day regulars, with Ms Durrant calling it “the one day Bermuda celebrates Bermuda”.

“There’s been so much bad news around,” she said.

“For a quick minute, let’s stop and enjoy the culture and seeing people.”

43rd Bermuda Day Parade: The Wisdom of Togetherness (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Ms Wellman said their day had begun by Port Royal in Southampton to watch the Half Marathon Derby runners.

“It was a lot of fun with flags and cheering,” she said. “It’s nice to come out this year — it feels more normal.”

Patrina O’Connor-Paynter, hosting on Front Street and directing a spectators’ dance, cleared the street as the St John’s Ambulance and Royal Bermuda Regiment led the opening of the parade just after 1.30pm.

By then, thousands of spectators packed Hamilton.

Watching the 43rd annual celebration from a quieter vantage on Queen Street were Earl Smith and Iris Robinson.

Mr Smith said he seldom turned out for the parade itself.

But he liked watching the runners and cyclists on Bermuda Day.

“It’s a relaxing day to enjoy the festivities, take a few pictures and see old friends,” he added.

“I’ve missed it.”

43rd Bermuda Day Parade: Bermuda Long Riders Motorcycle Club and Association (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Ms Robinson said the jostling for place on Bermuda Day, with families marking off their traditional spot to sit, sometimes “takes away a little bit” from the holiday.

“This time the space in the crowd is pretty good,” she said.

“Look how happy everybody is.”

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Published May 28, 2022 at 8:00 am (Updated May 28, 2022 at 2:05 pm)

‘Proud to be Bermudian’

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