A large turnout is anticipated to witness today’s Independence Day celebrations in Tobago as the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) has shifted the parade route, with the procession starting from Bacolet rather than Scarborough. This was revealed by THA Chief Secretary Orville London, in a telephone interview yesterday. London said because the celebration this year would be bigger, it was necessary to begin the parade from the Dwight Yorke Stadium to accommodate the large number of participants. In years gone, hundreds of people would gather at the Shaw Park Cultural Complex, the traditional starting point. As customary, this year’s parade will feature members of the security forces along with Girl Guides, Cadets and officials of the THA, who will travel along the Claude Noel Highway and end at Gardenside, Scarborough. London is expected to take the salute and the march-past. “We will have a military parade and the venue has been shifted from Shaw Park to the Dwight Yorke Stadium. There has been a change in the route because this year will be bigger and the Shaw Park facility would have been inadequate for the number of the participants. Of course there will be the fireworks display in the evening,” London said.
He said the THA will continue the celebrations straight into December as there are many other events planned, which are geared towards educating the public on the significance of independence. London said as the new school term begins, there will be lectures and distribution of books and other informative materials for students. Already, the Division of Finance and Enterprise Development has produced and begun distributing a booklet on the history and culture of Tobago, which is called Tobago Spirit. “Basically we did not see it just as a celebration which will begin and end tomorrow. Also carded are four community concerts in various parts of the island. “I think between now and the end of the year, the focus will be on informing, sensitising and mobilising people behind the whole concept of our independence, so I think the celebrations this year will move into a different gear. It is going to be different with the pure celebratory aspects but with a greater focus on information and mobilising and sensitising people.”
He said all celebrations were funded by the THA and explained that they are given funds annually from the budget and it was their responsibility to take care of Tobago. “The responsibility is ours and we must source the funds. They did not ask and we did not request it,” he said. Asked whether Tobago will have its own awards function for Independence Day, London said the day was meant to celebrate the people of both Trinidad and Tobago.
“Well, we did not see that it would be appropriate in a situation where the country is celebrating 50 years of independence, where it would have separate awards. We have our Assembly Day on December 4, where we will pay tribute to the people of Tobago. “One of the things we have to bear in mind, we also have to be involved as Tobagonians, at the national level, because it is the anniversary of Trinidad and Tobago. “I will be at the national awards on Friday evening as Tobago will be participating in national activities, because we consider ourselves as part of the process.”