San Pedro’s deputy mayor Gary Greif stepped into the cool shadows of the Holiday Hotel lobby shortly after the end of the Independence Day Jump-up Parade on Sunday.
It was hot out there. And it had been a long and exhausting march for all. (See photos and read about the parade here.)
But Gary was excited: “We’re on our way to Central Park. There’s going to be a big surprise there in about 10 minutes! Don’t miss it.”
By the time we got the the park, it was already packed and every spare chunk of shade had already been staked out.
But what the hell, the Gilharry 7, the finest show band in all of Belize had just started turning up the heat from the stage. Fans were squeezed into a five-foot deep swath of shadow in front of the stage. The swath deepened as the sun set but not fast enough to cover the masses drawn out by the driving pumping beats of the band.
Suddenly the front of the stage erupted in gauzy clouds of pink, blue, green orange with hardly a breeze to bear them away. Little color packet “bombs” were sending a rainbow of corn starch and baking soda over the fans closest to the stage.
Was this Gary’s big surprise?
If so, pretty cool way to end the parade.
There’s even been talk about replacing the traditional pre-Lent paint bomb wars with the non-toxic and washable powder — definitely more colorful!
A barely discernible rumble began offshore, at first hardly competing with the full-on amps of the Gilharry 7. But ultimately the roar of the helicopter drowned out the band as it swooped in over the park. Powerful gusts of wind kicked up sand and sent hats, headdresses and canopies flying.
And then it began to rain.
Lollipops, wrapped hard candies and chewy sugar bites were tumbling to the ground, where swarms of kids — and of course, some adults — were scooping them up into makeshift t-shirt pouches and ball caps. Laughs and screams of delight filled Central Park.
Up above you could see a huge grin on Mayor Danny’s face as he scooped out handfuls of candy and dropped them below.
Me, I was holding on to a leg of the canopy that moments earlier had covered the sound board for the stage and wondering if I would ever find my hat again. One of the canopy legs had snagged a sound cable and was in danger of pulling the whole system over until a town employee rushed up and unhooked it.
The helicopter moved up a bit higher and the turbulence on the ground subsided. Just a sloshing sea of eager kids roaming the playground in search of the next spot where the candy was likely to land.
Cool surprise, mayor. Cool surprise.
Here are some pictures from Central Park in San Pedro: