Vincy pageant founder, prez celebrates 60th birthday in grand style

Vincentian pageant founder, president, Yvonne Peters celebrates her 60th birthday.
Photo by Nelson A. King

A large number of cultural and sports figures were among guests and family members Saturday night at Tropical Breeze, formerly Tropical Paradise, on Utica Avenue in Brooklyn, as Yvonne Peters, the Vincentian-born founder and president of the Miss New York Continental Cultural Pageant, celebrated her 60th birthday in grand style.

Family members comprised, among others, Peters’ three children: Dominique Awana, Shannon Ramona and Derone Kitwana; adopted children: Sharelle Peters, Shaule Peters and Elron Telesford Peters; grand-children: Tyler, Corie, Sy, Sakai, Skue, Saka, Aasha and Aaryn; sister Sandra; and step mother.

Dubbed “A Touch of Pink,” with most guests wearing a touch of pink, the packed gala ceremony attracted former leading Vincentian sporting figures in soccer and netball, such as erstwhile national soccer captain and manager of Team SVG in the Brooklyn-based Caribbean Soccer Cup, Stanley “Luxie” Morris, a Vincentian sports ambassador, and his wife, Dr. Roxie Irish Morris, a former Vincentian national netball star.

Yvonne Peters reads a poem. Photo by Nelson A. King

Peters said her love for sports remains “a constant” in her life. In Brooklyn, she was a member of and netball player for Hairoun Sports Club; president and a player of Islanders Netball Sports Club; one of the founding members, president and player of Antillians Sports and Cultural Club; “a few times” vice president and treasurer of the Caribbean American Netball Association (CANA); and a member of Vincy Foreign Based Club.

She was also the founder and president of the Brooklyn-based Caribbean American Cultural Group (CACG), which organizes the annual Miss New York Continental Cultural Pageant for ladies between the ages of 17 and 29.

In a speech read by her daughter, Shannon, Peters said she was “so honored to have you in my company.

“Indeed, it’s a pleasure seeing all of you here this evening,” she said. “As I celebrate this milestone and reflect on my life’s journey, I realized that I have come this far by faith amidst my achievements and challenges – the hustle and the bustle on my journey and, realistically, raising my three children all by myself.”

Peters said she was born in Paul’s Avenue in Kingstown, the Vincentian capital, with eight bothers and sisters on her mother’s side – altogether 25 brothers and sisters.

Mother and Son Dance: Yvonne Peters dances with son Derone “Keith” Peters.

“I was a high school drop-out, but graduated from St. Joseph Convent Commercial Institute; a teenage mother of two daughters — Awana and Ramona — supported by my mom and family,” she said.

After migrating to New York in 1984, Peters said “boredom and homesick were a part of new experience,” but added that she was “destined and determined to succeed.”

She said she worked as a nanny for many years “and never lost the vision of my purpose of coming to America.”

Peters said she attended any training or educational classes that were available in the community — whether it was swimming, adult education, computer training or exercise classes.

“The daytime soaps — Young and the Restless and All My Children, etc., did not captivate me,” she said. “I preferred programs from which I could learn something or that would inspire me.”

She said, when her nanny job became part time, she finally found the courage to enroll in college, completing studies for an associate degree in business administration and a Bachelor of Arts degree in public administration from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, resulting in an internship and a career at New York City Transit Authority.

“As many of you know, I love sports, and I spent much of my teenage years playing netball,” said Peters, who is a qualified netball umpire, a masquerader and, “once upon a time, played Queen of the Band, ‘Sun in the Eye’”.

Locally, she was one of the founding members and player of Avenue United Netball Team and a dedicated member of Avenues United Sports and Cultural Club.

She was also a member of Abucalypse Steel Orchestra, as a double second player.

Additionally, Peters said she was one of the founding members of Avenues Village Youth Pageant contest.

MC Joanne Legair (right) and Arrie Cyrus sing ‘Midnight Train.’

“Although I was never a participant in a pageant, my desires were to support the young people in my community to be a part of something and or to get involved in something in the community,” she said. “Many of you can attest to my experience in one way or the other.

“I can truly say now, gone are the good old days, when I would empty the no name brand cereal into the name brand cereal box and tricked my kids,” she added. “Gone are the days when my paycheck wasn’t enough to pay the bills, when I would borrow from Peter to pay Paul, and take Peter and his entourage bills (You know what I mean — the light bill, gas bill, etc.) and shred them; no stress, no worries until we see other again.

“I am so blessed and thankful to Almighty God for all my accomplishments and to all that I have achieved, great and small; the existence to witness my three children, all gowned up, and my eight grandchildren — all credit and praises to my omnipotent God,” Peters continued.

“Many thanks to my children for your love and your support; thank you to my family, friends, supporters, my advisers, and to everyone who smiles with me,” she said. “And if you know me well enough, I try not to hold on to grudges. I believe in forgiveness, and I do enjoy a good laugh. Love you all.”

In toasting Peters, Sandra said her sister used to “bully” her while growing up.

“Yvonne had a name for everybody; so, raise your hands to Yvonne for her bullying (laughter),” said Sandra, as the enthusiastic guests raised their glasses.

Peters’ step mother said: “God has brought people a might way.

“She said ‘step mother’, but I’m the mother,” she said. “I’m so happy and grateful to be here.”

Mistress of Ceremonies Joanne Legair and singer Arri Cyrus formed an impromptu duet in singing “Midnight Train,” as the audience sang along with other “Oldie Goldies” of the 1960s and ‘70s.

In reading a poem from an unknown author, Peters said: “Who wants to be 20? Twenty hasn’t got a clue. And no one over 30 can tell 20 what to do.

“Who wants to be 30? Who says 30’s prime? Thirties got the energy, but never has the time?” she asked. “And, who wants to be 40? Forty is the pits. Forty thinks how great she looked when she was 36.

“Fifty has perspective; she’s savvy, mature and wise,” Peters added. “But 60s? Yes, she got the time, she’s prime, she’s savvy, she’s got the energy, she’s mature, and she’s wise. And there is nothing TRULY wrong with 50s that 60s cannot cure.”

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