Mayor of the City of New York, Bill deBlasio, and First Lady Chirlane McCray, welcomed Guyanese to Gracie Mansion, on Feb. 27, for one of the most celebratory and historic events, added to Guyana’s momentous Golden Republic Jubilee in North America, attended by a wide cross-section of nationals.
Fifty expatriates, including this Journalist, received Certificates of Recognition, during a lavish [email protected] reception, entertained by the impassioned Menes de Groit Shanto Rhythms, and the energized Adrian Dutchin whose “I am a Guyanese,” track, lit up the prestigious building, and got the Mayor and his wife on their floor, hands waving in the air.
Pride, patriotism, and talent, was heard in the spirited verses of Poet James Richmond, who boasted of Guyana’s beauty in Down the Essequibo River and exalted, Guyana’s petroleum wealth, with Guyana Oozing Oil. Michelle Cole-Wa and Ashvini Persaud’s Green FAD (oil in Guyana) ensembles also celebrated the nation’s glory.
The Golden Arrowhead flag in the backdrop was a fitting tribute to evening’s celebration, the politician opened, with “welcome home everybody” in reference to Gracie Mansion being the people’s house.
“Guyana is strong and has proven that it can do amazing things over half a century. Are you feeling proud tonight,” called out Mayor deBlasio, and reminded Guyanese that the event was the first ever, in the history of New York City that Guyana was celebrating in Gracie Mansion, the official residence.
“You have earned it. I know you are commitment to your homeland, but I love you because of your pride, and everything you do to make New York City great,” he said, and promised to send a thank you note to Guyana for making the city better.
He thanked Guyana-born James Richmond, a member of his Clergy Advisory Council, for initiating the Jubilee celebration, and quipped, “I have met many Guyanese but I may have met one who is super human. The first day, I met James Richmond, I said whatever he is eating for breakfast, I want that too,” he mused, and echoed Richmond’s ‘obsession’ when requesting a reception be held to honor Guyana’s 50th Republic.
“This is a celebration of Guyana’s heritage,” he said with confidence, adding that some communities have been in New York for centuries, but the Guyanese community is now coming into its own, and contributing more and more to New York, whether, its culture, food, music, or involvement in the democrat system, and especially in the public service, he claimed, thanking NYPD Officers for their service.
He said despite Guyanese are not one of the most known communities in New York, they are surely making their mark on the City and “this 50th Anniversary is very important for this reason. “New York is starting to wakeup to another part of what we truly are, this is a coming of age for the Guyanese community, a moment so well deserved,” adding, “when we decided to have this event, it was the hope and belief that it would educate people of all backgrounds of just how special this community is,” opined deBlasio.
First Lady Chirlane McCray told compatriots that they are always welcomed to visit Gracie Mansion, and asked them to turn to tell each other, “I celebrate you tonight”, before congratulating nationals on Guyana’s milestone.
“Guyanese celebrate greatness, are you ready for the next generation of Guyanese in New York to change the world,” she asked, to a resounding yes from the audience at the packed event, that was introduced by Rhonda Binda, and emceed by President of the Guyana Unity Movement (GUM), Sherif Fraser.
“Your city is proud of you and what you bring to New York City, your swirl of Saris, your Pepperpot, and your late night, Calypso, and Chutney. We love the Guyanese community that lifts people up no matter what,” said First Lady McCray.
Mayor deBlasio thanked his wife for sharing her passion and educating citizens about mental health through NYC Thrive, that is easily accessed to help family and friends. He also called on nationals to be counted at the upcoming Census.
Ambassador of Guyana to the United States, Riyad Insanally, extended greeting to Guyana on its 50th Republic Anniversary in a prepared message, while Consul General of Guyana to New York, Barbara Atherly was acknowledged during the evening filled with Guyanese pride and patriotism.
Expatriates continued the celebration with music, fine Guyanese food and were seen greeting each other with hugs, handshakes, and comradeship.