It’s not often you hear or read something good occurring in the name of the police and firefighters of our nation. Not only has their image over the last several years taken a beating—these brave men and women who daily risk their own lives to protect the rest of us—but they also have been scapegoated by successive administrations; too often forced to take blame for circumstances beyond their control. Still they persevere, doing what they were trained to do, regardless of weather, without the most basic equipment.
Last Saturday evening some caring citizens showed their appreciation by putting on a special event to benefit police officers and firefighters, past and present. The venue was the Sandals Grande at Pigeon Point. Bursting at the seams was the Bill Clinton Ballroom that housed the show. It was tastefully done up for the special occasion. Not only were the dining tables reminiscent of the more famous big-city luxury restaurants Ciro’s and Spago Beverly Hills, to name just two (at any rate, as seen in the movies), the three-course meals sang in high praise of the proficiency of Sandals Grande’s culinary wizards. Adding another touch of Hollywood to the occasion was a battalion of gregarious waiters, in police headgear that may or may not have been fashioned out of papier mache.
The evening’s program seemed designed to seduce guests into lightening up their pocketbooks. There were raffles for just about anything you might name, from overseas vacations for two, blissful nights at hotels here and elsewhere, to cruises, sumptuous dinners for couples, and the latest TV sets. Then there were the special awards for the best-dressed tables. (Obviously something went terribly off course when a best-dressed choice turned out to be Sam ‘Juk Bois’ Flood. But seriously, is there another local celebrity as well liked as Sam? His heh-heh-heh signature chuckle several times brought the house down. But the roof-raiser was when he delivered—in impeccable English if you please—his thank-you remarks: he claimed his wife had hand-sewn the winning ensemble. True or false? With Juk Bois, who can tell for certain? And anyway, who cared? The packed house was too busy cracking up at the very idea!) To set the record straight, he won his award for “Best Dressed To Avoid Buying A Ticket!” My opinion? Social commentator Richard Peterkin was far more deserving of the special recognition. (I dread the next time someone hands Richard the MC’s mike at a show. I anticipate a blistering time!)
Another cherished celeb was Queen Esther. It turned out she had designed and sewn several of the arresting dresses and gowns in the ballroom, including those worn by the prime minister’s wife Raquel DuBoulay-Chastanet. (I swear she must’ve changed four times between curtain up and the event’s end. Talk about effective advertising for a local designer!) The inside word is that the more attractive dress shirts were also by Queen Esther. In all events, she more than deserved her special recognition on the occasion.
Also taking home awards—and much kudos—were long retired but unforgettable police officers Gerald Cyril, Chriselda Branford and Winston Bastien; also former firefighters Hilary Albert and Harold Gill. Cyril’s surprisingly lucid and inspirational thank-you speech had some in the audience laying tearful tracks in their make-up while others screamed with delight. The long retired cop had special words of encouragement for young officers, while also lecturing on the evils of bribery.
Lighter entertainment was provided by star vocalists Shayne Ross, who sang the Judy Garland evergreen “Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire”; Frankie DuBoulay, who rocked Pelay’s creole staple “Tradicion Noel”; the house-breaker Derede who threatened the Sandals walls with renditions by Tina Turner, and Teddyson John.
My own impromptu contribution was “I’ll Have A Blue Christmas Without You,” backed on guitar by my longtime pal, the fabulous Lennie Stone. (Thanks again, Lennie!) Hopefully Raquel and her hardworking elves (do elves have gender?) had as much fun counting dollars for the police and firefighters as those who packed the Bill Clinton Ballroom to happily donate to this most worthy occasion!
I almost forgot to mention the man who throughout the evening kept things moving like clockwork: Russell Lake. He proved yet again that though the dogs may bark his caravan stays on track to the stars. The versatile entertainer emceed the event while having as much fun as his audience. Here’s hoping he knew he was closely monitored by the day’s most powerful man in the land as throughout the evening he whispered whatever he whispered in his wife’s ear!
Congratulations to all who in one way or another (not forgetting the police band!) helped to make Saturday’s event the success it was—in particular the workaholic Raquel Chastanet who seemed at once to be all over the joint, always with that irresistible smile of hers. Here’s to next time!