Palm Beach County in Florida, where majestic Palm trees dot the landscape in glorious abundance, with leaves that sway gently, and sometimes passionately, in winds that sweep across the land from oceans that hug the Floridian peninsula, bristled with a special kind of celebration on Saturday, May 28, 2022. It was that time of the year when Guyanese – Americans congregated to joyfully observe Guyana’s Independence Anniversary, under the banner of GUYANA DAY.
This event is unique in many ways. It grew out of intense discussions amongst, and consultations with, committed community leaders in New York City in the late 90s, seeing fruition in 1999 when a parade was held in Queens. Out of those meetings, the slogan, GUYANA DAY was created, following in the footsteps of other immigrant nations, and affixed to the parade, which became the GUYANA DAY PARADE.
The parade, however, fell short of several of our objectives, and we felt that our mission was not going to be achieved by such a parade. Subsequently, in the year 2000, we launched a GUYANA DAY show and concert, to celebrate Guyana’s rich cultural heritage. The results were impressive! The community was abuzz with excitement! The future of GUYANA DAY not only looked bright, but it generated growing interest amongst community leaders, and sponsors, who wanted to get involved.
Our motto became ‘Strength in Unity’ because we wanted GUYANA DAY to be a platform upon which we could build multicultural and multiracial unity, by creating an understanding of, and an appreciation for, all cultures, and respect for the heritage of all peoples. GUYANA DAY became an institution bound to the presentation, promotion, and preservation of Guyanese art forms in their traditional, and emerging formats.
This event initiated the birth of its parent organization, GUYANA DAY USA, INC., which attracted Guyanese – Americans from all levels of society, from all age groups, male and female, and most importantly, from all ethnic groups.
GUYANA DAY USA, INC. is apolitical, with emphasis placed on all Guyanese, regardless of their views, creed, or political affiliation. GUYANA DAY became an annual fixture in New York City and an event that was eagerly anticipated by all. It grew in importance. and attendance, moving from venue to venue because of capacity audiences, until it found a home at the Performing Arts Center, York College, with capacity attendances at that facility.
Over the years, GUYANA DAY USA, INC. has received accolades and awards from various sources – the New York City Council, Guyana Consulate in New York, US member of Congress, President of Queens Borough, New York City, Guyana Cultural Association, NY, and other community organizations and individuals.
GUYANA DAY USA, INC. has active, working committees in New York City and Florida, and even though GUYANA DAY has moved to Palm Beach County in Florida, the organization has maintained its presence in New York, by emphasizing another aspect of its mission – charity. Every Saturday, over the past two years, throughout the pandemic, we have been distributing food items, Covid-19 sanitizers, masks, and home test kits, to the community. The committee in Florida has also been reaching out to the community to give charitable assistance where necessary.
GUYANA DAY, an exposition of Guyanese arts and culture, has certainly made an impact in Florida, and in the process, GUYANA DAY USA, INC. has added another community event to its repertoire. Every year, we do an annual EASTER PICNIC that caters to the entire family.
We also work with other organizations in Florida to promote events that make the community a better place to live and grow. In collaboration with the Trinidad & Tobago Citizens Association of Palm Beach, we have an ongoing Softball competition, BLASTING FOR RUNS, which is full of friendly rivalry, entertainment, and fete.
Because of this impact and the significance of the original GUYANA DAY, we are looking further afield to promote other community events that will enrich the lives of all. And, of course, we are working on resuming the event in New York, to have it running just before, or after, the Florida show.