GUNNY BAGS, FLAX AND BOSTON DANCING | Sharon Henry
We Saints love a good street and float parade and today’s celebration of St Helena Day brought on smiles, foot tapping and merriment as the island marked 516 years since discovery.
The floats are always the highlight of the day and organisers, New Horizons set the theme this year as, ‘The Good Ole Days’. From the top to the bottom of Jamestown the streets were lined with onlookers wanting a good view of the procession.
The effort put into float production, as always, was tremendous. The fun and lively spirit of the different groups parading was contagious, generating a happy atmosphere despite the grey skies and an occasional sprinkle of rain.
The Good Ole Days On St Helena
Leading were the beautiful Miss St Helena 2018 contestants who smiled and waved to the crowds from two floats made by the Half Tree Hollow Community Centre.
The entry from Harford School was entitled, ‘St Helena Livin’ in the 1950’s – all the way from Longwood, la.’ They had farm animals, a pig, goat, cow and donkey, straw, firewood, lanterns and gunny-bag clothes and shoes. The Harford dancers had a good knees-up of country dancing to ole-time tunes including island anthem, ‘When The Saints Go Marching In.’
This Old House…
St Paul’s district had three floats entitled, ‘Bringing Back the Home Spirit.’
A spinning gramophone was one of their floats.
A second entry was a house consisting of a kitchen and sitting room, complete with a stocked food safe, smoking chimney, Portuguese nails on the roof, royal family picture, tin bath, enamel mugs, chamber pot and jug, old telephone, radio, reclining wooden chairs and even a traditional buck’s-horn fly catcher hanging from the ceiling.
Final float from St Paul’s, trailing at the back was ‘the end,’ an out-house – which was evidently occupied!
St Paul’s also had country dancers who jigged, kicked and twirled all the way down the street. Dancing was choreographed to old-time tunes seemingly played by a home-grown, three-man band sat inside the ‘sitting room.’ The ‘Boston’ dance, a favourite in decades past, enjoyed an energetic return.
St Helena Day 2018 Floats In The Rain
Isaac’s Contractors’ and New Horizon’s combined entry was a 1950’s flax mill. It included piles of flax waiting to be fed through the stripper and turned into string. There was a life-sized donkey carrying a flax-load and mill workers carrying a placard stating, ‘We demand representation by secret ballot.’
And lastly, there was a small band of conservationists on foot, the LEMP entry, dressed as birds, insects and flowers. Their interpretation of the good ole days was the year 1501 – before St Helena’s discovery and man’s arrival on the island!
It was entertaining to see the different interpretations, and that to many, the ‘good ole days,’ were before the mod-cons of internet, TV, and flush toilets.
Once again (they did it last year as well) St Paul’s took 1st place, their attention to detail not going unnoticed. In fact, their entry was so good it could easily be a museum instalment.
First Official Duty For Miss St Helena 2018
The St Helena Day celebrations began earlier in the day at 10am with a service on Jamestown’s, Grand Parade, under the jacaranda trees. The peal of bugles and beat of drums from the Scouts’ Band set off the day’s proceedings as the island’s uniformed youth groups marched from the Canister to the Parade Square.
Miss St Helena 2018, Gemma Lawrence, had to stifle an attack of the giggles before she could perform her first official duty of delivering a speech during the St Helena Day opening service, which she did with aplomb. She spoke of following your dreams and always believing in yourself.
Besides the float parade there was the Jacob’s Ladder Challenge, a fun run, novelty team sports and live music. On sale were cupcakes, boiled pudding, flax flowers, second-hand books, handmade jewellery and trinket boxes, candy floss, face-painting, and homemade fudge and marshmallow. Yum!
It was a very, happy St Helena Day. We hope you had one too.
Here’s a selection of pictures from St Helena’s special day. Enjoy!