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A Mammoth New York Jamaican Celebration of Trelawny

WASHINGTON, DCBy 2pm, the numbers in Rockland Lake State Park, in Rockland County, upstate New York, had swelled to some 8,000 picnic goers from across North America and as far away as the United Kingdom, Canada, and Jamaica, packing the sprawling tree-lined lake park with colorful picnic blankets and baskets, tables, tents, and smoky barbeque grills.

A Mammoth New York Jamaican Celebration of Trelawny
Trelwynites at the annual Trelawny Reunion Picnic on Sunday, May 29, at the Rockland Lake State Park, Rockland County, New York Photo Derrick Scott)

But it all started just as the sun was rising above the lush, green hills of Rockland County on Sunday morning, May 28, with cars and buses rolling into the parking lot to the recreation area of the State Park to deposit the eager occupants, for the kick-off of the 43rd edition of the annual Trelawny Reunion Picnic.

It all told an amazing story of the phenomenal growth of an annual reunion picnic that began life as a small gathering at Rockland Lake State Park, of about a dozen families from Falmouth, Trelawny.

People chatted, old friendships were rekindled, and the laughter of children intermingled with the sights and scents of mouthwatering dishes, including the irresistible roasted Trelawny yellow yam and saltfish.

At the unique family affair, friends and strangers alike freely partook of the ample fare on offer, as they roamed the park to reconnect with their parish and perhaps a long, lost friend. “This never gets old. Each year when I step into the park it almost feels like I am stepping back in time to see countless friends, who I grew up with and know,” said Dr. Albert Stoddart, who heals from Falmouth and now calls New Jersey home. Dr. Stoddart, who has been attending this Trelawny picnic for more than 30 years, said, “Our stories never end, and the good feeling stays with me until I return the next year,” he added.

A Mammoth New York Jamaican Celebration of Trelawny
Founding member of the Trelawyn Reunion Picnic, seated, Mr. DK Mullings, shares a light moment with a group of Falmouthians from left, President of Friends of Falmouth, Michael Wattkis, former Mayor of Falmouth and Councillor for the Falmouth Division, Gaeth Wilkenson; former Diaspora Northeast USA Representative, Patrick Beckford; Dr. Albert Stoddart; Dennis Earle; Former Assistant Commissioner of Police, Clinton Laing, and Paul Earle, at the 43rd annual Trelawny Reunion Picnic on Sunday May 29 at the Rockland Lake State Park, Rockland County. (Photo Derrick Scott)

Another longtime attendee, Dahlia Gordon who hails from Duanvale and in Maryland, said the reunion picnic is one event she looks forward to every year. she gushed “Can you believe I can walk from one end of the park to another and be invited to a friend’s picnic table for a meal at no cost?  That is truly the spirit of Trelawny and Jamaica!”

Among the notable figures on hand for the special occasion were Falmouth’s Mayor Colin Gager, who was accompanied by a seven-man delegation with former Mayor Garth Wilkinson among them.

A Mammoth New York Jamaican Celebration of Trelawny
Falmouth’s Mayor Counsellor, Colin Gager, second from left, engages with picnic-goers at the annual Trelawny Reunion Picnic on Sunday, May 29, at the Rockland Lake State Park, Rockland County. (Photo Derrick Scott)

Commenting on the picnic, Mayor Gager described it as both a distinct pleasure and honour for him to be at the 43rd staging of the Trelawny annual picnic – a momentous fête that   brought   over 8,000 Jamaicans together.

“I must express heartiest congratulations and good wishes to the people of Trelawny living in the United States, who continue to stage this event.  Sunday’s picnic was testament to the love, warmth and resilience that epitomize a true Jamaican.” The fellowship and camaraderie, the fun and frolicking, the networking, and the friendships forged, are nothing short of amazing. Trelawny – and in particular Falmouth – has benefited immensely from members in the Diaspora, and this picnic is one such event that will seek to raise funds to support development in the parish.

Mayor Gager noted that “with our new Trelawny Drop-In Centre and Homeless Night Shelter opened, I am sure that we will continue to receive support in caring for the vulnerable. I look forward to the continued support and pledge my unwavering commitment to working with the Diaspora to build Trelawny.”

The picnic at Rockland Lake State Park culminated a weekend of reunion activities, prominent among them a Friends of Falmouth Symposium & Brunch, Trelawny We Come from All-White Party, FOF welcome party, William Knibb High School Alumni Annual Memorial Day Barbeque, and Scarlett’s back yard Falmouth Barbecue.


South Florida Caribbean News

The Team provides news and information for the Caribbean-American community in South Florida and beyond.

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