PNP in festive mood
Lynford Simpson, Staff Reporter
September 23 2002
HALF-WAY TREE was transformed into a sea of orange last night as thousands of flag-waving supporters of the People's National Party (PNP) descended on the area to hear Party Leader, Prime Minister P.J. Patterson announce the date for the general election.
Every vantage point was taken as the crowd spilled over into Constant Spring Road, Half-Way Tree Road and on both sides of the platform on Hope Road. Two men stood atop a telephone booth for several hours while others risked injury by climbing the scaffolding and on top of nearby buildings.
The showers that had been affecting the island since last Wednesday stayed away for much of yesterday. However, the skies opened up just after 5:00 p.m., forcing many to open umbrellas. But the brief showers did little to quell the partying of the massive crowd which had started to gather long before the 4:00 p.m. start of what was officially the public session of the PNP's annual conference. The private session of the conference was held on Saturday at the University of Technology (UTech).
Many were bussed into the Corporate Area from all constituencies. A concert of sorts preceded the presentation of the 60 candidates with gospel singer Sandra Brooks and Leroy Sibbles of Heptones fame being the crowd pleasers.
"Mi sey not even rain can stop wi," Sibbles shouted into the microphone, as he took the stage.
"I smell the sweet aroma of victory in the air," Danny Roberts, vice-president of the National Workers Union, said when he greeted the crowd. He added: "We've already booked the passage for (Edward) Seaga (Jamaica Labour Party) Leader to go. Seaga is in the departure lounge."
Local Government Minister, Arnold Bertram, who is contesting the North West St. Ann seat, traced a history of six defeats in parliamentary and Local Government elections the JLP has suffered under Mr. Seaga's leadership. "Six love is enough political backsiding for any one Labourite," Bertram said.
Mr. Patterson arrived at about 7:40 p.m. to a hero's welcome. Orange confetti was streamed across the platform and he himself was in a festive mood as he danced with Carol Jackson who goes up against the JLP's Shahine Robinson in North East St. Ann.
"I want to tell them that I'm fit and ready. I put my horses under starter's orders last week. Yesterday at UTech I tell them to get set and tonight I'm going to name the date and fly the gate," he said, before announcing October 16 as the day Jamaicans will go to the polls.
"As we approach our fourth term we pledge to serve you without arrogance... but with humility," the Prime Minister told party supporters.