There are 29 districts in Grenada, spanning over the nation’s 344 square kilometres, and every district was visited by the Queen’s Baton today, reaching out to the 110,000 people that live on the island.
From Saint George’s, to Saint David, from Saint Andrew to Saint Patricks, the baton travelled through all six parishes, starting in the capital, Saint George’s. The Grenada Cycling Team rode the baton from the coast up into the hills. At each parish stop there were a number of local athletes from the area that took the baton through the parish whilst a convoy of vehicles announced the baton’s arrival with a truck full of speakers blaring out the message.
Grenada is home to some big sporting stars. Devon Smith, the legendary cricketer who played for the West Indies was from the little town of Hermitage, and the very famous Kirani James, Grenada’s first ever Olympic Gold medallist, winner of the 400m in London in 2012. Future stars also carried the baton, including young Samuel Alexander, a 100 and 200 meter sprinter. With a 100m personal best of 10.5 seconds at 17 years of age, Samuel shows strong promise for the future. He told us that despite making the qualifying standard for The Youth Caribbean Games the athletics federation struggled to find the funds to send him to those Games. He said he was hoping to better his personal best this year and is looking towards competing at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.
As the baton arrived in the parish of Saint Patrick’s, a group of dancers in costume were awaiting its arrival. Their costumes were made up of very brightly coloured oversized patterned robes that hung from their arms and with trousers that came down to their knees. Appropriately the group’s name is ‘the knee-high dancers’. They also wore red mesh masks over their faces with caricature faces drawn onto them - a historic ruse to conceal their race and identity. The ‘knee-high dancers’ chanted, sang and danced whilst throwing flour into the air out of pots, covering themselves in clouds of mist. “Wel_come to Lea_pers Hill” they chanted whilst they carried the baton - led by Youth Ambassador Rashid Sylvester - through the streets of Saint Patricks.
In the next parish, the baton was again met with a traditional dance, this time by ‘the Vaco dancers’. These men dressed in homemade ancient military style costumes with what resembles large pirate hats. Instead of masks, the men wear material or bandannas wrapped round their faces. Their chanting is accompanied by rhythmic stamping as on their feet they wear over-sized large soled shoes, with what appears to be nails in the bottom, giving the stamping a distinctive ‘snap’ on impact.
After returning back to Saint George’s, the last leg of the relay saw the baton led into the National Stadium by Nye Cruickshank, a young parasport swimmer, who is showing strong promise to be one of Grenada’s Paralympic athletes of the future.