No Independence Ball For New Yorkers This Year

ONE FAMILY….NO LOVE! Paulette Willoughby (left) and then Consul General to New York, Herman LaMont (right), in a 2013 event pic.

NEW YORK, NY. Monday, August 6, 2018 — Jamaicans residing in the Tri-State area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, will have to do without one of the signature events marking the island nation’s 56th anniversary of Independence this year.

There will not be an Independence Anniversary Ball, denying what usually is upwards of a thousand nationals the opportunity to don their Saturday best, for a night on the town.

It is unclear what has forced the cancellation of the ‘charity’ event, a for the first time since 1962. However, a statement from the office of Consul General Trudy Deans, Honorary Chair of the Jamaica Independence Foundation (JIF), Inc, noted the need for better corporate and fiscal management of the black tie, red carpet, event.

In keeping with our ongoing strategies of enhancing the corporate and fiscal management of the Gala, the management committee of the Jamaica Independence Foundation (JIF), Inc, has decided to postpone the event for a new date to be determined later this year,” according to the unsigned statement, dated July 6.

However, it’s understood that things have been unravelling since 2008, and may have come to a head shortly after the dance last year.

According to multiple sources who spoke on condition of anonymity, a power grab and control of the event, behind the scenes wheeling and dealing, uncertainty as to which charity to benefit are among the causes contributing to the uncertain future of the ball. Also listed are declining levels of sponsorship and the increasingly high cost of staging the event, resulting in ballooning ticket prices – US$250 per person.

For others, the politics of the day may have been too much. It is no secret that last year’s guest list at the VVIP level, caused some commotion and quite a bit of contention, resulting in committee members saying they have had enough, even without the benefit of the usual event post mortem!

Politics and mystery aside, those with whom this writer spoke, offered mixed emotions on the event’s cancellation and/or postponement.

I am disappointed. It is such a staple among the annual celebrations,” offered Nicole, a Manhattan-based, Caribbean online news service representative, who has attended the event in the past with her mother.

Patrick Beckford, welcomed the postponement.

I would say ‘it’s about time’ (they scrap the ball). We have been doing this for too long, where the majority of the money collected, is used to buffer the profits of a corporation that has nothing to do with the Jamaican community. We should find a better way to support charities than these, over-priced occasion, where those who have some means, show off.”

Beckford’s opinion was shared by Tracey Dixon of New Jersey. “The ball which celebrates the independence of a nation from oppression, a nation that is still considered to be a third world nation; is unaffordable for the very class of people who fought for her freedom. It lacks inclusion across the board and as such is not a true reflection of the greater N.E diaspora.”

Aubrey Campbell

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