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Atlanta Jamaican Association Inc Celebrates Nation’s 50th Independence In Gala Style

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The Atlanta Jamaican Association, Inc., (AJA), in collaboration with the AJ Cultural and Educational Fund, Inc., hosted Jamaica’s 50th Independence and Scholarship Awards in grand style on August 18, 2012 at the Georgia International Convention Center (GICC) in Atlanta.  The Convention Center Ball room was transformed into a picturesque wonderland of Black, Green and Gold.  This coupled with the pulsating music of live steel drum tunes by Mr. Norman Grant and scrumptious food provided the perfect setting for the evening.  AJA’s President, Mr. Errol Ritchie welcomed the  over 800 Jamaicans and friends who arrived in their finest attire to celebrate Jamaica’s Golden Jubilee Independence and hear Jamaica’s ambassador to the United States, His Excellency Professor Stephen Vasciannie deliver his first formal address in the U.S. and dance to the music of renown Caribbean band, Byron Lee’s Dragonaires.

Dr. Vasciannie’s key note address included recognition of the vast achievements of the first English-speaking Caribbean nation to break away from British rule in 1962 and the most recent achievements of Jamaican Olympians during the 2012 London Olympics.  His speech was well received by all including long time school friends whom Dr. Vasciannie had not seen in years.

Dignitaries from all over including other Caribbean organizations in Atlanta, all joined in to congratulate Jamaica.  Special guests included Jamaica’s Honorary Consul to Georgia, Vin Martin; Honorary Consul of Barbados, Dr. Edward Layne and his wife Bernie Layne; President of The Trinidadian Association in Atlanta, Alan Simpson; former District Attorney for Clayton County, Jewel Scott and husband Dr. Headley Scott.  The master of ceremony, Dr. Noel Erskine kept the crowd in a festive mood.

The 2012 Scholarship Award winners Danielle Hudson and Danielle King were acknowledged by Ms. Joy Boothe and Mr. Barry Bennett.  The awards were presented by Mrs. Lisa Vasciannie.  The recipients were overjoyed to have been selected for the scholarships.  Other awards presented were Life Membership to Ms. Dawnet Dunbar and the President’s Award to Mr. Copeland Comrie.  

After the formalities were over, guests rushed to the dance floor to enjoy the music of Byron Lee’s Dragonaires. The Dragonaires entertained the crowd with Jamaican favorites such as Mento, Ska, Rock Steady and Reggae.  There was a time that the crowd even danced to some good Gospel music.  The Dragonaires made sure everyone in attendance danced.

The buzz around town is that this celebration was the biggest and best Caribbean event to take place in Atlanta. Everyone attending was proud to be in the presence of so many Jamaicans enjoying the celebration.  This event would not have been possible without the support of our sponsors: PNC Bank, Green Energy Partners and the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.  The Ball Committee and the many volunteers, advertisers and the Atlanta Community made the ball a success.  The Atlanta Jamaican Association would like to thank everyone who participated in this historical event and looks forward to celebrating Jamaica’s 51st Independence with you again next year.

Ball Committee:
Mr. Errol Ritchie –Chairman, Ball Committee
Tony Gray & AJ Stone – PR, Marketing & Management
Jannice Oshea -Chairman, 2012 Souvenir Booklet
Sandra Lee Gammon – Decorations
Frank Watson, Jannice O’shea, Everton Williams, Winston Rubie, Grandville Saunders, Aj Stone, Pamela Marciunas, Patricia Panton and a host of other volunteers.

By Aj Stone

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