Hosted in the Clinton Jefferson Ballroom of the Sandals Grande Resort – Saint Lucia’s recently eclipsed second largest hotel – the Office of the Prime Minister held the annual Eve of Independence Ball, an intricately detailed and somewhat gold-plated event celebrating Fair Helen’s unshackling from colonialism.
The highlight of the evening was undoubtedly the charity auction aimed at raising funds for the Upton Gardens Girls’ Centre. The centre’s mission is to rehabilitate underprivileged, abused, neglected or abandoned teenage girls on the verge of delinquency.
The organizers of the event, led by the prime minister’s wife Raquel Chastanet, partnered with the private sector to provide goods to be auctioned. Among the high-priced items were a vacation for two at Sandals, a premium bottle of Dom Perignon, and jewellery by Harry Edwards. The most unusual item was a paved road, courtesy one of Charles Daher’s companies.
A panel of fashion judges that included SHE Caribbean publisher Mae Wayne was another popular feature of the fun-packed event. An unusually dapper Peter Josie in a white tuxedo made the best-dressed list. Many in the full house claimed this was the first time they’d seen the former radical politician and government minister in jacket and tie. In the end Samuel Agiste, who is fast developing a reputation as a manufacturer of attractive Saint Lucia-flavoured bow ties, took the top prize.
In the category of best dressed women, Samantha Garcia was bestowed the highest honour, competing against the likes of Jade Mountain’s Karolin Troubetzkoy and Agnes Francis of the Tourist Board. Awarded in the Most Patriotic category was the General Manager of Bay Gardens Resorts, Waltrude Patrick. Top prizes were sponsored by A La Mode Boutique and Saint Lucia Distillers.
By far the most thrilling announcement on the evening was that the event had raised for the Upton Gardens Girl Centre a total of $50,000!