Republic Day 2020: Pandemic Edition
September 24th 2020 is Trinidad and Tobago’s 44th Republic Day anniversary. We officially gained Republic status on August 1st, 1976, but the holiday is celebrated on September 24th as this was the day of the Republican Parliament’s first sitting. Being a Republic means that our already Independent nation began to utilize and enforce a constitution. So, for Trinidad and Tobago, this means that the people elect the representatives who serve the needs of the electorate.
The usual festivities on the Public holiday include gathering with friends and family to watch fireworks. One main location from which fireworks are set off is the Queen’s Park Savannah. Built in 1867, President’s House has looked on with the rest of the nation as the bright lights signify another year of freedom for our twin island nation.
Presidents House, Port of Spain (Source: Otp.tt)
You know the sequence of events, by heart at this point- come Independence Day bunting is put up on every Government building, and it stays until the Republic Day weekend. Numerous event planners host fetes and limes, every watering hole is filled beyond capacity and not one pavement is left empty of revellers crooning along to David Rudder’s Trini to the Bone. It is truly a special time where the population openly bears witness to our ever-blossoming nationhood journey. We stand side by side, taking pride in all that it means to be Trinbagonian, on this auspicious day.
However, our typical way of celebrating is superseded by the new normal- social distancing and public health regulations that currently forbid mass public gatherings. That special day when the population collectively celebrates is now being done in a non-collective manner.
Do not lose hope as there are still ways for all of us to celebrate, with the same fervour of previous years. Our cultural heritage is here to stay so let’s soak up the sights that are all around us for this Republic Day.
- Take a personal Tour of the Woodford Square Heritage District, in our capital city.
Fountain in Woodford Square (Source: Denzel Reid)
With the larger-scale Trust Tours being put on pause for a little while, we want you to take the initiative and go out! Mask on, sanitizer handy, legs ready- let’s go! We suggest you limit it to two (2) persons. This Heritage District is known for its unique architectural style and historical richness, so you won’t be disappointed. It is concentrated in downtown POS, around- you guessed it- Woodford Square, so you can plan your route accordingly. Be sure to go see Conquerabia and of course, the brand spanking newly refurbished Red House.
Another option we have created, to specifically cater your health and safety in this uncertain time, are National Trust’s Friends and Family Tour, so get your Tour on!
- Drive around the Savannah and enjoy the beauty of the Magnificent Seven. (There have been extensive restoration works done, so you are in for a treat). They are- Queen’s Royal College, Hayes Court, Archbishop’s Palace, Ambard’s House (Roomor), Mille Fleurs, Whitehall, Killarney (Stollmeyer’s Castle).
QRC (Source: Wikipedia)
Stop for a Snow Cone or a lovely delicacy in the Queen’s Park Savannah and we invite you to munch as you leisurely bask in the grandeur of our built heritage along Maraval Road. No fireworks? No problem. Look at you, being inventive and spending the Republic Day holiday in a way that shows national pride!
- Using the National Trust website, search for heritage sites in your area. Because at this point, you’re probably noticing that all the suggestions are in the capital city. Never been to Knollys Tunnel? #TabaquiteRoadTrip. Now’s your chance to visit! Is this you?
“Well, I can’t really remember eh, but I heard something or the other about trains in TnT.”
Well, there is a train that sits in San Fernando, but your memory is fuzzy? No worries, you can see it in person, just follow this link to the San Fernando City Corporation’s pride and joy placed at Harris Promenade. Wanting something a little less public and maybe with a little more greenery? Palmiste Park is perfect for you. Once a part of the Palmiste Estate, it features a unique heart shaped-pond, various Sugar Estate relics, and for the cricket fans, a statue of legend Sonny Ramadhin. Take a bicycle ride, or stroll in the shade of trees from both Madagascar and India which can be found here. This is definitely the right place for us to build up our immune systems, and build up our awareness of built and natural heritage features in the Southland.
Photo by Catherine Serrant
- If you are looking for Virtual Tours: The National Trust Website will become your best friend. We have over 460 sites on the NTTT Heritage Asset Inventory, so go for it! There are multiple categories, and with such an easy-to navigate website, you’ll be doing educational reading. Be sure to like our FB and IG pages as well, to stay in the know. Also: See some of our printables here, that will evoke that sense of pride in where we have come from and help shape where we are going.
The Pandemic changes many things, one of which has been our ability to physically be together, especially for large swatches of the populace wanting to commemorate any special occasion. Nonetheless, at our core some things remain unchanged. Our unending commitment to heritage preservation endures. Our hope in better days to come is as steadfast as the built heritage around us. Just as they have withstood the test of time and the elements, we took can find renewed joy in our resilience in the face of this current hardship. This year, we can still, Ooh! and Ah! towards our built heritage- and make it a celebration we take part in more often.
“Republic Day” NALIS, 2020. https://www.nalis.gov.tt/Resources/Subject-Guide/Republic-Day#tabposition_26061
About the author.
Catherine Serrant is a Research Assistant at the National Trust, with a passion for Trinbago history.
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