‘Peace, Love and Unity’ at Union Island Day Picnic

Caribbean Connection provides live entertainment at Canasrie Park.
Caribbean Connection provides live entertainment at Canasrie Park.
Photo by Nelson A. King

Phil Stewart, co-organizer of the annual Union Island Day Picnic, says “Peace, Love and Unity”, the theme of this year’s celebration, was stressed on Sunday at Canarsie Park, on Seaview Avenue, in Brooklyn.

“We have a reasonable crowd,” Stewart, the youngest brother of former City Council Member Dr. Kendall Stewart, told Caribbean Life, flanked by co-organizers Angela Stowe-Edwards and Victor Hypolite, Jr. The other co-organizer was Burnis Hutchinson.

“We got a lot of people from the mainland (St Vincent), Jamaica and other islands,” Stewart added. “The theme of the picnic is ‘Peace, Love and Unity’ of all the islands of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. We’re trying to promote peace among us.”

Carmen McMillan – who was born in Chateaubelair, a town along the western coast of mainland St. Vincent, but grew up in Trinidad and Tobago before migrating to New York – said she fully endorsed the picnic’s theme.

“It’s my first time, but I’m enjoying it,” she said, after Vincentian soca artiste Edson “Lively” McDonald handed her a drink. “I like how the people unite together. It’s good.”

From left:Co-organizers Victor Hypolite, Angela Stowe-Edwards and Phil Stewart.
From left:Co-organizers Victor Hypolite, Angela Stowe-Edwards and Phil Stewart. Photo by Nelson A. King

As he feasted on a plate of local delicacies, Glenroy “Goebel” Phillips – an executive member of the Vincy Day USA Committee, organizer of the massive Vincy Day Picnic at Heckscher State Park in East Islip, Long Is. – said “Peace, Love and Unity” is important to the community.

“This is what it means to be a Vincentian,” he said. “I’m enjoying myself.”

Standing next to Phillips, Samuel “Kala” Gordon said he loved the camaraderie and entertainment, as the band, Caribbean Connection, blasted Caribbean rhythms.

“First time seeing the Diaspora community spirit,” intoned Leon Romeo. “The picnic allows us to see many people we’re not seen in years.”

Wearing a T-shirt with the Vincentian colors of green, blue and gold, Jeffrey Glasgow said he was having a good time.

Dan "Daka" Primus-Griffith belches out soca rhythms.
Dan “Daka” Primus-Griffith belches out soca rhythms.Photo by Nelson A. King

“I love it,” he said, flanked by his Jamaican-born wife, Carol. “Nice, just right! Camaraderie is good, everybody is good, perfect for summer.”

A few yards away, Bernard Wyllie, a former minister of government in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and erstwhile diplomat at the Vincentian Consulate in New York, held court with Dr. Stewart.

“It’s a nice get-together,” Wyllie said. “People were not able to gather around in the last two years (because of the COVID-19 pandemic).”

Dr. Stewart, the former representative for the 45th Council District in Brooklyn, who hails from Union Island, chimed in: “It’s very nice. It’s always good. The weather is always good.”

Mary Harry-Stewart, Dr. Stewart’s sister-in-law, Phil’s wife, said she loved the picnic, but added: “I just wish it was Union Island, Canouan and Mayreau (islands in the southern St. Vincent Grenadines).

Carmena McMillan with Vincy soca artiste Edson "Lively" McDonald.
Carmena McMillan with Vincy soca artiste Edson “Lively” McDonald. Photo by Nelson A. King

“It’s something we’re thinking about, working on,” said Mary, who was born in Canouan.”

She, however, said the Union Island Day Picnic is “a brilliant idea.”

“You get to taste home-cooked food,” Mary continued.

Denise Craigg, a member of the Brooklyn-based group VincyCares, said she loved the picnic and “enjoyed the food.”

After belching out soca and reggae vibes, Dan “Daka” Primus-Griffith, lead vocalist with Caribbean Connection, said the picnic was “very good.”

Dr. Kendall Stewart, right, with former St. Vincent and the Grenadines Government Minister Bernard Wyllie.
Dr. Kendall Stewart, right, with former St. Vincent and the Grenadines Government Minister Bernard Wyllie. Photo by Nelson A. King

“It was an exceptionally good day,” said the former vocalist with the Vincentian bands Touch, Asterisks and Strange Vibration. “I was happy to see people I’ve not seen in years.”

Miles McIntosh, the lead guitarist with Caribbean Connection, brought along his Guyanese-born wife.

“Culturally, I’m supporting my country,” McIntosh said. “The picnic is very nice. The crowd was very supportive.”

Terrance "Terry" Edwards, left, feasting on local delicacies, with Glenroy "Goebel" Phillips.
Terrance “Terry” Edwards, left, feasting on local delicacies, with Glenroy “Goebel” Phillips. Photo by Nelson A. King

Hypolite, whose father, Victor Hypolite, Sr., recently returned to Union Island, said the picnic is “an opportunity to build generational community, to continue the spirit where my ancestors came from.

“It’s more important for the younger generation to see this, to make a connection that’ll last a lifetime,” added Hypolite, who was born in Brooklyn.

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