CHRISTMAS MORNING IN QUEEN’S PARK was bitter-sweet for director of the Royal Barbados Police Force Band, Senior Superintendent Keith Ellis, who was conducting the iconic group on Christmas morning for the last time.
It was Ellis’ tenth Christmas at the podium and he gave the scores of people who turned up for the traditional Christmas Morning In The Park Concert their fill of music and dancing. He joined the band 45 years ago, and puts down his baton next September when he retires from the force.
At the end of the two-hour-long concert, he told the DAILY NATION: “It is sad, but every good thing must come to an end. My time has come and I will just ride off into the sunset.” But that was not before treating yesterday’s audience to a programme of favourite Christmas carols, well-loved pieces of classic Christmas music and even some of Red Plastic Bag’s in a Christmas calypso mode.
However, there was widespread disappointment that hoarseness prevented the director from giving his signature solo rendition of Brook Benton’s You’re All I want for Christmas which never failed to draw hoots and loud applause from a delighted audience.
Unlike the past three years when Park-goers walked away carrying their shoes in hand, drenched by rain that washed out the parade, spectators yesterday were bathed in sunshine, and the cameras were held high recording the event.
Several visitors were spotted among the crowd, some here for the first time, others on their customary Christmas holiday as guests of friends who live here. Canadians George and Jovita Vytasek were relieved to escape Vancouver’s biting cold and being in the Park on Christmasmorning was for them a “wonderful” treat.
It was the 12th year for German Birgit Ahrens who was first introduced to Christmas Morning In The Park by her Barbadian friend and host Shirley Harewood.
“I just love it,” she said, and she, like so many others promenading, was fittingly dressed.
Barbadian Penelope Hynam was reliving memories of being taken to the Park as a “little girl”. Yesterday was the first time she went back as an adult and she said: “This is fantastic. The clothes are amazing.”
The band struck up at 7 a.m. sharp with a Christmas perennial:Christians Awake. Featured soloists were veteran crooner Rudy Boyce, soprano Chantal Martin and from within the band itself, Kevin Cox, Abraham Millington and Tanya Maughn.
It was the 110th Christmas Morning In The Park celebration.