COURTS CHRISTMAS LIGHT-UP TRADITION – by Francis Quamina Farrier
While it is not any way near the grand mega Christmas Tree light-up at Rockefeller Plaza in midtown Manhattan, New York City, the relative modest COURTS Christmas tree Light-up here on Main Street in downtown Georgetown, Guyana, has also now become an annual Guyanese Christmas tradition. Many Guyanese look forward to it eagerly. In a way, this COURTS Christmas tradition, is now an important element of the Guyanese Christmas Season, in what is now a much cleaner capital city, Georgetown.
On the day in question, in this Jubilee Year 2016, it was Friday November 11, the southern block of Main Street, between Quamina Street and Church Street, was blocked off to vehicular traffic. That is part of this annual Christmas tradition. A temporary stage was set-up across the western pavement, and jumbo public address systems, put in place. It was another COURTS Christmas Trees Light-Up, and the building up of another phase of a Guyana Christmas tradition.
What I also need to mention, especially for overseas-based Guyanese who have not visited the Motherland in a long time, is that this southern block of Main Street in Georgetown, just north of the Cenotaph, is a very popular venue for various street fairs and other similar events. What I must also mention, is that the regular vendors of Arts and Crafts who ply their trade in that tree-lined Main Street avenue, regularly clean up every day. It is a magnificent tradition which is hardly ever recognized and appreciated by local or over-seas-based Guyanese, who tend to focus primarily on the negatives in our Beautiful Guyana. Which is really a thumbs-down Guyanese tradition.
A part of the COURTS Christmas tradition, is the COURTS Choir which is made up of members of staff. While it is not the best Choir in Guyana – they come together just once a year – the enthusiasm they project makes up for whatever else may be lacking in talent. Their renditions are always very well received by the massive audiences which are there every year.
However, COURTS Main Street Christmas Light-up Concerts, are usually graced with some of Guyana’s favourite and very talented entertainers. This year, topping the bill was the ever-popular song bird, Charmaine Blackman. She wowed the audience with a medley of popular Christmas songs. And during this Jubilee Year 2016, Charmaine and her long-time Composer Partner and husband, Bunny Alves, produced some fantastic compositions which are now available on CD. The most popular one at this time of the year is, “SSIGNAL WITH CHRISTMAS”.
While Charmaine Blackman was the popular Veteran entertainer at this Jubilee Year COURTS Christmas Light-Up, a Debutante was introduced to the audience in the person of the young, sweet and talented Melissa Vandeyar. Earlier in this Jubilee Year, Melissa Vandeyar had won the COURTS Talent Competition. Many predict that, like Charmaine Blackman, Melissa Vandeyar will be around for a long time, as one of Guyana’s more popular entertainers. Not only did Melissa sing at the Main Street, Georgetown COURTS Christmas Light-up, but she was also with the COURTS Road Shows 2016, at New Amsterdam and other locations.
Christmas in Guyana is always special, and many overseas-based Guyanese return to enjoy the local Guyanese Cuisine – the popular Black Cake, the Pepperpot, the Garlic Pork and others which have been part of the Guyanese Christmas tradition, since Colonial times. Christmas in Guyana is always very special, especially for Guyanese. And as the Guyanese Group, The Four Lords, sing the ever-popular traditional Guyanese Christmas song “Happy Holidays”, I take this opportunity to extend the same sentiments to you, and say a little prayer for the Leader of the Four Lords, Billy Moore, who passed away earlier this year, leaving with us, that popular Christmas song, “Happy Holiday”; a true Guyanese Musical Christmas tradition.
Happy Holidays song- Four Lords, Billy Moore
This original Guyanese Christmas song was recorded 50 years ago and performed by the Four Lords of Guyana