Trinidad & Tobago celebrates 50 years of independence
Neki Mohan blogs from Trinidad & Tobago
Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, 12:46 p.m. Friday
The sun has come up on Independence Day and everyone is decked out in the national colors and headed to line the streets and the Queens Park Savannah.
Military men and women are wearing uniforms. The military steel orchestra and full band provides the beat as they march through the streets.
As you can see in my slideshow, the creativity used in the wearing of red, white and black was certainly part of the show.
It is a beautiful morning and a beautiful show.
Military pageantry is something the we pride ourselves in, and my photographer Bob Palumbo loves a parade. He was dancing in the streets -- he is that talented! He can shoot and dance.
Since people can see Local 10 in Trinidad and Tobago, they recognize us and personally thank us for coming to visit and celebrate with us.
Here are some of things we are hearing on the streets today:
"I am proud of my country, we have so many role models, and so many different races," said Lisa, 10.
"We have come a long way, we have to have faith that we can overcome the problems with crime," said Davina, 30.
John brought his two sons to the parade.
"It's important that they be here, this is history for them for all of us," said John, 35.
"Like our anthem says, every creed and race find an equal place, that's what I am most proud of," said Nastasha, 40.
Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, 2:56 a.m. Friday
Hundreds of people gathered in downtown, along with the prime minister, president and dignitaries to usher in Independence Day in Trinidad and Tobago.
The celebrations started at sundown with steel-band music and calypso and full military honors in Woodford Square. At midnight, a symbolic flag was raised, re-enacting the day Trinidad and Tobago ceased being a British colony and became its own nation.
"I was here this day in 1962 and I wouldn't have missed this for the world," Randy Alford told me.
Alford, a resident of Palmetto Bay, Florida, is a retiree after working for the Miami Dade Public Schools for 20 years.
"I love my life in South Florida, but I make a yearly pilgrimage because this country made me who I am," said Alford.
Newly crowned Olympic Javelin Champion Keshorn Walcott was honored as Trinidadians celebrate the unique characteristics of the culture.
"We do well everywhere in the world, I can always tell a Trinbagonian where ever they are because of the way they carry themselves," Colin Lucas told Local 10's Neki Mohan.
The party went well into the wee hours of the morning -- we edited the story for the morning news. Headed to get some sleep, more to come tomorrow!
Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, 5:37 p.m. Thursday
It's surreal to be on the ground in the capital of my youth on assignment. Photographer Bob Palumbo and I are in a busy Port of Spain, which is draped in red, white and black -- the national colors.
We are in the Port of Spain to cover Trinidad and Tobago's 50th anniversary of independence. A big deal in the twin island republic which so many South Floridians claim as their native homeland.
Ten of thousands of Trinidadians and Tobagonians live in the State of Florida. Lieutenant Governor Jennifer Carroll is a native of the country. Chances are you have a neighbor, a friend or a co-worker that hails from the twin island republic.
Trinidad and Tobago is very unique as Caribbean islands go because of its natural resources. It's vibrant industry of petroleum and petroleum products, making it a vital supplier to the region, including the United States. Lt. Gov Carroll just led a trade delegation to T&T this summer to build a stronger economic link between the two places.
Signs of the culture here in South Florida are everywhere. The steel band, which was created in Trinidad, is part of the soundtrack for our Caribbean lifestyle and tourism industry. Every year, Miami Gardens plays host to the hundreds of thousands who come in to town for the annual Carnival in October. In almost every city in South Florida, there are Caribbean markets and restaurants. Even groceries stores are stocking their shelves with more imports to keep up with demand to satisfy their Caribbean clientele.
I was born in New York to two Trinidadian-born parents who were struggling to find opportunity in their new not so tropical homeland that had many job opportunities. Caring for a child was not easy without family support, so at 3-years-old, I went to live with my grandparents in Port of Spain until it was time to go to college.
My story is one of thousands of similar experiences shared by Caribbean Immigrants in South Florida. We have embraced American culture and lifestyle but there will always be a feeling inside that makes T&T our home, too.
This is a big day for T&T, and I am honored to cover it for Local 10.
At midnight Friday, they will reenact the lowering of the British Flag and hoisting on Trinidad and Tobago's red, white and black flag for the first time 50 years ago. We are here on the ground to bring this special time to you.
For more on the island and the celebrations, go to www.tnt50.gov.tt.
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