Good morning everyone,
Today, as the Acting Minister of Social Development and Sports, with responsibility for Cultural Affairs, I am very pleased and excited to speak about the upcoming Bermuda Day 2018. I am pleased because this year, for the first time, Bermuda Day will be celebrated on the last Friday in May, i.e. May 25th 2018.
Let me repeat - Bermuda Day 2018 will be celebrated on Friday May 25th 2018. I also want to take this opportunity to remind the public that next year, 2019, the last Friday in May will fall on Friday, May 31st 2019. Make sure you mark your calendar for that date.
Why am I excited? I am excited because also for the first time, we will expand Bermuda Day cultural festivities so that they take place on Friday May 25th, Saturday May 26th and Sunday May 27th.
What we hope to create is an entire BERMUDA DAY WEEKEND experience that all residents of Bermuda, both Bermudians and non-Bermudians, as well as our visitors, can participate in and enjoy. Bermuda has so much to celebrate as a country and as a people, from sporting heroes to cultural icons, from enviable climate to picturesque beaches and landscape, and we are arguably the friendliest people on earth.
Of course, we have much, much more, and in years to come we intend to celebrate all the various aspects of Bermudian culture and heritage. In 2018, we will begin to ‘rebrand’ Bermuda Day, to make it bigger and better, and to showcase new events and festivities that will engage the entire community throughout the Bermuda Day Weekend. We envisage a cultural festival that makes residents proud to call Bermuda home, and makes visitors happy they chose our Island to visit.
Yes, this is a teaser….and you will have to wait until the next press conference to see exactly what we have in mind….
In the meantime, let’s talk about Bermuda Day itself, Friday May 25th 2018. It may still be a couple of months away…but I can already see the floats making their way up Cedar Avenue…I can already feel the beat of the Gombey drums…I can already taste the delicious food - crafted with family recipes passed down through the generations. Bermuda Day is truly my favorite time of the year.
Bermuda day is a chance to celebrate our unique culture; to remind ourselves of what the Bermudian spirit is all about. The public will know that Bermuda Day takes place during May - Heritage Month.
This year the theme for Heritage Month is “What We Share”.
The theme embraces the notion that what we share is far more important than what divides us. On a 21 square mile island, we are united in family bonds that extend from St. George’s to Sandys and friendships which span generations.
We are famed for our hospitality; our community spirit following a hurricane; and our generosity as a people. We share codfish and potatoes on Sundays, red bean soup, jerk chicken, and mac and cheese at any given family get-together - a diaspora of tastes that has less to do with what you’re eating and more to do with the company in which you share it. This identity and these experiences are what we share.
Last year, we saw an increase in the number of Bermuda Day participants and floats. And this year we are encouraging all sectors of our community to participate in one way or another – be a part of what we hope will be a renaissance in Bermuda Day festivities.
We know that constructing a very large float can be challenging.…so we encourage people thinking about getting involved to enter smaller things – bikes, box carts, even twizzys! And if you don’t want to decorate anything, just enter a walking group – outfit your staff or club participants in t-shirts with a banner, walk and wave!
Over the last few years, the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs has successfully introduced new participant categories in order to widen community involvement:
- Natural Heritage Floats (traditional Bermuda Day floats with natural materials)
- Upcycled Floats (using recycled materials or used items destined for trash)
- Art Floats (using art, sculpture, or other modes of creative expression)
- Music Truck Entry
- Walking Group Entry
Bermuda Day Parade Application Forms are due in-full by Friday, April 20th 2018.
This year we will be moving the dignitary viewing stand back to Leopard’s Club, a historic venue for Bermuda. The Leopard’s Club had its roots in a very different Bermuda – a segregated Bermuda. And therefore I find it poignant that it now play a prominent role in celebrating the diversity of our culture and also what we share as a people.
I am especially encouraging the business community to support the Bermuda Day festivities, whether by participating themselves or by sponsoring a local group – a sports team, school or non-profit organization. In the coming weeks I will reach out to various sectors of our community to invite them to consider re-engaging with Bermuda Day, or to participate for the first time if they haven’t done so before.
My wish is for this to be the most dynamic and exciting Bermuda Day parade yet – celebrating the whole community. Since it’s a long weekend, we hope people will come out and support the participants. Lots of other exciting things are being planned for the long weekend – and we’ll let you know about those soon!
For more information on the history of Heritage Month and Bermuda Day, go to the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs website at communityandculture.bm.