On August 6 when Jamaica celebrated forty-six years of Independence from British rule, the local Automobile Association (JAA), had pride of place at the helm of a spectacular national parade seen, heard and read about by the entire nation.
Colourful effigies, marching bands, drum troops and cultural dancers made for a one-of-a-kind spectacle which was enjoyed by most Jamaicans. While hundreds of thousands viewed live telecast, thousands of people lined the streets of Kingston to witness the magnificence of the floats and tens of thousands more poured into the National Stadium to watch the cultural show hosted by the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission, an agency of the Government of Jamaica.
Amidst the celebrations, the Jamaica Automobile Association and the Jamaica Millennium Motoring Club (JMMC), another local member of the FIA, etched a distinct message of ‘yellow means road safety’ while showing off some of Jamaica’s most prominent racing machines to the celebrating audience.
“Vice Chairman of the JMMC, Michael Fennel and Lawrence Henriques, Competitions Chairman invited the JAA to lead the parade. We gladly accepted the opportunity to participate in the national celebrations, which highlighted the achievements and culture of the island,” Mr. Beckford said.
Following the media-saturated event, which was hailed a national success, Jamaica Automobile Association (JAA) General Manager, Alan Beckford, is reeling with enthusiasm. He pointed out that the message of the organisation was shared with Jamaicans in the presence of national leaders such as the Governor-General, His Excellency Professor Sir Kenneth O. Hall and the Honourable Bruce Golding, Prime Minister of Jamaica.
Road Safety Messages Gone National
“We welcomed the opportunity to share positive messages about motoring and road safety to the large gathering of some 30,000 people. It is rare that such prime opportunities occur, so we are pleased to have had the chance to educate patrons about road safety and, we also issued environmentally friendly tips on greener motoring while we were there,” shares Mr. Beckford.
JAA representatives dotted the multitude in their bright yellow shirts and covered the expanse of the crowd of spectators to distribute “Make Cars Green”, and “Think before You Drive” pamphlets. The onlookers were receptive to the representatives and were grateful for the information they received.
“What we are even more pleased about is that we are helping to augment the road safety culture among local children,” the JAA head points out, relating how excited the kids were to officially meet Mobi, the JAA mascot. “He was well received by the children and the families in attendance. Parents were curious to know who this character was and what he represented. This also encouraged the endorsement of the JAA,” Mr. Beckford remarks.
The JAA reports that the presence of Prime Minister and the Leader Opposition, Portia Simpson Miller, who had signed the Make Road Safe Petition earlier this year, “definitely cemented a purpose for us – that all of Jamaica was at a stage of acceptance of our messages and that it could be fun at the same time.”
Sheer Visibility for Motoring
According to Beckford, the JMMC classic sports cars had never been seen by such a large audience.
“Vehicles, including go karts were out in droves. As reggae artistes like Movada and top Caribbean Soca Band, Byron Lee and the Dragonaires, stirred sensation from the stage, cars such as Mitsubishi Evolutions, Subaru WRXs, Dragsters and classics, revved to the beat of over 3,000 performers,” he chuckles.
The display of cars led the 3-mile parade from the Police Officers Club on Old Hope Road to the National Stadium, where the drivers waited their turn to show an amazing performance.
“Spectators were especially astonished by the roaring engines of the road beasts as some had never seen cars in such a display,” says Beckford, who notes Jamaican’s reception of motor racing family, the Summerbells.
He says it pleased the crowd to see the “junior go-karters as young as six years of age performing along side the professional racers” as they raced around the National Stadium track showing their talent, speed and stunts.
People were amazed, rising to their feet in glee. The night ended with fireworks and with thunderous applause from proud Jamaicans.