The government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines is considering a proposal to hold the independence anniversary parade in the evening rather than in the morning, as is traditionally the case.
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said the parade commander has suggested this in light of the heatwave affecting the country.
SVG will on Oct. 27 celebrate its 44th anniversary of political independence from Britain.
As is usually the case, the annual military parade is expected to be the centerpiece of the official celebrations.
Generally, Vincentians observe independence by participating in picnics and other fun activities after the independence parade.
“I have received a communication and I have to discuss it further today but I would like the people if they can give their opinion,” Gonsalves said today (Wednesday) on his weekly appearance on the state-owned NBC Radio.
“The parade commander, Superintendent Benzil Samuel has written asking for the change of time for the parade from 8 o’clock in the morning to 5 p.m,” Gonsalves said.
“And the reason why, basic reason, is that because of the current sweltering temperatures, that he fears that more persons may well on the parade ground from 8 o’clock, you know, it may well be more challenging and he’s suggesting this.”
A number of years ago there was an unusually high number of persons — including police officers from the Special Service Unit, a tactical squad — fainting during the parade as a result of the unusually high temperatures.
And, this year, the independence parade will be held at a time when a heat wave has been affecting the country and the wider Caribbean for months.
Regional forecasters have said that the unusually high temperature will continue through November.
“Clearly, there are pros and there are cons,” Gonsalves said of the proposal to change the parade time.
“I am always in favour of making changes if there is a reasonable basis and what has been put forward sounds reasonable to me. But there are other things which you can put countervailing,” said Gonsalves, whose prime minister’s address to the nation is a central plank of the parade.
“There are some countries which do them in the evening — do these parades in the evening, some still continue in the morning. And in other parts of the world, the same thing.
“In temperate countries, there is a tendency to do them in the morning. In tropical countries, a lot of them are done in the evening.
“So, I’d like to hear persons’ views. I am not sure where to fall on this. I am weighing it in my mind and we had a discussion on it at Cabinet and I thought that this morning I will put it out.
“So within the next couple of days, if we can have people’s view and so on. As I say, the basis is reasonable but there is a reasonable basis also to keep it at 8. It doesn’t mean that one is right and one is wrong. It is a question of how we weigh these matters,” the prime minister said.