Thousands of Guyanese yesterday gathered around the D’Urban Park to witness the flag raising ceremony for the 46th Republic Anniversary.
Although the ceremony was set to start at 5pm, scores of people, decked out in all colours of the spectrum, filled the stands and kept on flowing into park from as early as 3.30pm.
Armed with mini flags which they waved in the air, many in the crowd waited patiently as the steelpan band serenaded them. Those who couldn’t fit in the park, crowded Homestretch Avenue, Hadfield Street, and the Square of the Revolution, in a bid to get a glimpse of the ceremony.
As the start time approached, the siren of the fast approaching police escort cars heralding the arrival of Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo silenced the crowd.
Upon arriving precisely at 4:55pm, Nagamootoo received applause from the crowd that suddenly seemed to have had a surge of energy. Five minutes later, when it seemed like the applause and energy could not have been greater, the sirens from another set of police vehicles pierced the noise, bringing more joy and excitement to the crowd. The arrival of President David Granger was announced and as the line of escort cars streamed into the park, the crowd jumped up with excitement, greatly topping their previous round of applause, which only increased as the president stepped out of his vehicle and waved.
A rendition of the Hymn for Guyana’s Children and the recital of the national pledge followed. Afterward, ranks from the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) and Guyana Police Force, decked out in their pristine ceremonial uniforms, marched in formation. Hundreds of them, uniformly organised, marched along the park as the crowd roared and cheered along at every step.
When it came to the flag raising, the grand moment that everyone was anticipating, the crowd grew quiet as the ranks from the GDF marched towards the 200ft flag pole with the band beating their drums rhythmically. The ranks gathered around the pole and slowly started to hoist the flag as the crowd stood at attention, with the national anthem being played in the background. Slowly the massive flag, which is 50ft x 30ft, started to unfold and take shape on the pole.
When the breeze hit the flag, giving it its official inaugural flight, the crowd again exploded with cheers and chants, beating their previous eruptions, until the flag was hoisted to the top and was freely flying high above the D’Urban Park.
The ceremony then went on as the parade of officers marched off, with the beating retreat following and the Song of the Republic. The band entertained the crowd for 20 minutes after and President Granger was seen off with a last round of applause and cheers.
This year’s Republic Day celebration was a muted affair as it did not feature the float parade which is synonymous with the day and around which family picnics are held along the route leading into the National Park. The float parade is to be held on May 26th to coincide with the 50th anniversary of independence.