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Bermuda Day goes virtual

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A first-of-its-kind Gombey performance recording will form the grand finale of a virtual Bermuda Day Parade tomorrow, one of the event's organisers promised yesterday.

Qian Dickinson, of the social-media platform Bermemes, said that the team had worked hard over the past week to come up with a way to showcase the island's culture despite strict regulations to limit the spread of Covid-19.

Mr Dickinson said: “It's probably one of the most exciting projects that we've ever been a part of, it's truly special.”

He was careful not to reveal too much before the hour-long show aired on the Bermemes Facebook page at noon tomorrow.

But he confirmed that a Gombey performance would be “the grand finale”.

Mr Dickinson said: “That particular piece is, without giving it away, something that's never been done before in the history of Bermuda Gombeys.”

He added that the team was determined to mark the day even though the traditional parade and associated events were cancelled.

Mr Dickinson said: “Our mindset is in 2020, it's not what we didn't do, but what we actually did.

“We were thinking, we have a huge library of historical footage that we've been able to capture and also reached out to other people, so initially we were going to put together a historical mash-up of various parades through the years.

“But then we reached out to the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs, because they're an integral part of putting together the parade, to see what they had planned to do ... they kind of wanted to do something similar.”

Mr Dickinson, who works with Bermemes founder Dejon Simmons, said that the Government department sponsored the show and, with help from cultural affairs programme manager Carlita Lodge, helped to “transform” it into a new-style event.

He added: “We've reached out to a couple of the acts that would have been featured in the parade and, using social-distancing, we've actually been able to record some of their performances.”

He added that it was hoped families in Bermuda and overseas would join together online to watch the event, which is also sponsored by rum company Gosling's.

Lovitta Foggo, the Minister of Labour, Community Affairs and Sport, thanked Bermemes yesterday for its work “to provide what is sure to be a fun, exciting and interactive way for the public to enjoy Bermuda Day from the safety of our homes”.

She added: “On Bermuda Day this year, I hope you'll also tune into CITV to enjoy their archival footage which I've prefaced with a special Bermuda Day message.”

Ms Foggo said that a link to the virtual parade would be posted on a new Community and Cultural Affairs website scheduled to launch tonight at www.communityandculture.bm.

She added the site would be a hub to promote “events, programmes, opportunities, and initiatives” from the department.

Dwayne Caines, the City of Hamilton chief operating officer, said that the city was “disappointed” that it could not host the traditional parade but recognised that “safety is the top priority right now”.

He added: “We, however, know that next year we will come back with a planning committee and gift the country something grand that will speak to a two-year celebration.

“It is important that Bermuda works together to get past this difficult stage and when it is appropriate we will celebrate in grand Bermudian style.”

Charles Gosling, the Mayor of Hamilton, said: “Along with the rest of the council and executive and staff members of the Corporation of Hamilton we are disappointed that we will not be able to host the Bermuda Day Parade and Derby in Hamilton this year.”

He explained the celebrations would have been part of the corporation's 225th anniversary, but vowed: “Next year will be bigger and better.”

East End Primary School, in St George's, was among those that made sure pupils were involved in Bermuda Day activities despite not being in their usual classrooms.

Julie Foggo, the principal, explained that teachers Leroy Francis, Gail Palacio and Sarah Robinson, as well as educational therapist Vejay Steede, put together a YouTube production that featured submissions from pupils.

It was aired at a special virtual assembly yesterday when pupils — joined by Diallo Rabain, the Minister of Education, and Renée Ming, the MP for St George's North — were asked to dress as they would on Bermuda Day.

Ms Foggo said: “We had a ball doing it.” She added that the pupils were “so creative” and children who could not submit video clips became “amazing spectators”.

People who want to invoke the spirit of the Bermuda Day races can take part in a different event tomorrow after members of the Mid Atlantic Athletic Club arranged a virtual race for charity.

The club's Gayle Lindsay explained: “We wanted to give people an opportunity to maintain their tradition of running on the holiday.

“We have participated in virtual races that have been organised overseas and, based on the success of those events, we were inspired to try something similar here.

“Additionally, we recognise that the Covid-19 pandemic has caused significant financial hardship for many people in our community. We saw this as a way for the running community to show our support in these difficult times.”

Ms Lindsay added: “It is not intended to take away from the cultural and historical aspects of the Bermuda Day celebrations — it's simply a different kind of race for a different kind of Bermuda Day.

“We're extremely grateful to the Bermuda Half Marathon Derby Committee for giving us their consent to host this event on May 29.”

Ms Lindsay, who planned the event with Sharon Craig, the MAAC secretary, said people could sign up on Ptix and choose a parish to represent.

Runners or walkers, who are asked to follow government social-distancing guidelines, will be asked to see how far they can travel in 30 minutes and log their results.

Proceeds will be donated to the Coalition for the Protection of Children to help support the Grateful Bread's Families Supporting Families campaign.

To view the Minister of Labour, Community Affairs and Sport's statement in full, click on the PDF link under “Related Media”

Bermemes will premier a virtual Bermuda Day Parade at noon on Friday (Image supplied)
Masking the pain: the island will not celebrate Bermuda Day tomorrow with the traditional parade along Front Street - and plain surgical masks rather than the ornate disguises worn by Gombeys will be the only ones seen around town. But the island's spirit is not broken by the Covid-19 pandemic and other ways have been found to celebrate the event (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Lovitta Foggo (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published May 28, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated May 28, 2020 at 9:02 am)

Bermuda Day goes virtual

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