By Steve Lenox
PATERSON, NJ- Eastside Park was a sea of black, gold and green as thousands descended on the lower field for the annual two-day Jamaica Day Festival on Saturday.
Former Paterson Councilman Bill McKoy once again reprised his role as the titular head of the Caribbean nation’s vibrant Diaspora, leading the festivities as attendees enjoyed the music, food, and fun that helped mark their ancestral homeland’s 60th anniversary of independence.
Local restaurants such as Tropical Delight set up food tents with menus featuring dishes such as jerk chicken, curry goat, oxtails, and plantains, while familiar reggae tunes blared live from the festival’s stage.
One attendee, Kayla, likened the annual festival to Christmas, saying it was a chance to celebrate her roots as both her mother and grandmother were born in Jamaica. And while her daughter, Khalia, is just one year old, the festival, the young mother said, will continue to serve as a reminder of where one of Paterson’s youngest residents is from.
“I don’t want her to lose the culture,” Kayla told TAPinto Paterson as Khalia continued moving to the music that flowed across the park. “I want her to know her history.”
As Paterson’s various cultural celebrations typically do, this one drew many elected officials, including Councilwoman Martiza Davila, as guests.
“This is what Paterson is about,” Davila, who was joined by Council President Shahin Khalique, said, surveying the continually growing crowd and commenting that it was reflective of her hometown’s “richness of diversity.”
“Our Paterson is great because our people come from all over,” Davila added, noting that just last weekend Paterson came together to celebrate the city’s vast Peruvian community.
The celebration continues on Sunday from 11:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. and includes a Gospel Fest, with performances by Adrian Bullens, Felisha Farrar, Golda McFarlane, and Michael Reed beginning at 4:00 p.m.