Grenada lights the way with iconic drone display


Commentary



On February 7, in celebration of Grenada’s 50th anniversary of independence, the sky above the Spice Island’s National Stadium was illuminated by over 500 drones creating a breathtakingly “choreographed” light show.

The drone display, a first for Grenada and (at that magnitude) for the Caribbean region, was accompanied by a moving, cinematic soundtrack and superbly crafted script, delivered by a well-spoken male narrator.

The narrative, which detailed significant moments in Grenada’s history – from emancipation to revolution and beyond – also made mention of renowned places and important people (from the Kalinago…to prime ministers…to national heroes like well-decorated athlete Kirani James).

The pride-filled cheers of the crowd of thousands often swelled as if they were accompanying musical crescendos within the soundtrack.

“Shackles bound feet and hands, but freedom lived in the heart of the African man and he fought, she fought, we fought and rebelled…and in 1838 they obtained emancipation,” the voice said as the image of shackled fists breaking free lit up the skies.

The awestruck crowd erupted as the voice, accompanied by the image of a massive nutmeg in the sky, went on to mention Grenada’s “black gold” – nutmeg – of which the island is the world’s second-largest producer.

Other spectacular drone artwork included a colossal ship… the Grenadian flag…the well-detailed faces of Sir Eric Matthew Gairy (Uncle Gairy), Maurice Bishop and Dr Keith Mitchell…the spiralling swirl of hurricanes Emily and Ivan… a Carriacou big drum…a bougainvillea flower… a dancing woman wearing large skirts… a fire-blowing jab jab…a waterfall… a gigantic image of Kirani James running across the horizon…and more, all morphing smoothly from one into the other, reminiscent of stars and planets rearranging themselves in the Cosmos.

Watching online I was, at one point, almost moved to tears – not just by the combination of creative elements, but by the fact that a key national event was being celebrated and commemorated in such a pride-inspiring manner.

While Grenada’s show did include fireworks, they were presented in a well-managed 15-minute display following the drone show. In my opinion, no fireworks are necessary, especially after such an impressive presentation, but… if they must happen, 15 minutes is more than enough and certainly more acceptable than the drawn-out, meaningless explosions to which we in TT are subjected several times a year in the name of “festivities.”

Grenada’s fireworks display took place within a specific time, no doubt allowing citizens to know when to secure their pets.

“Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful! I’m lost for words living in North America. Never seen anything like this. So proud.”

That YouTube comment was one of many glowing sentiments expressed by proud Grenadians throughout the diaspora.

Grenada’s drone display educated viewers around the world on the island, its history, and its achievements and, in so doing, built a stage to highlight the people’s pride and togetherness.

The words of the 2024 Independence theme song (Grenada 50 – Up From Here) beautifully encapsulated this essence: “Togetherness and love is what we stand for.”

Sadly, at this point in TT’s history, I do not see us laying claim to a similar reality.

In Trinidad, the first-ever drone display (made possible by the Inter-American Development Bank, Pan Trinbago and Caribbean Airlines) occurred at the National Panorama finals. While it paled in comparison to Grenada’s display, it must be applauded as a step in the right direction.

TT must say goodbye to the random, senseless banging and bursts of colour erroneously defined as “family entertainment.” Fireworks leave nothing to be desired, and no one to be inspired.

Imagine asking a TT child of today: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Child: “I want to sell fireworks.”

Compare that to the child who witnesses an awe-inspiring drone display and dreams of becoming a high-income-earning “drone expert” – mastering technology and revolutionising artistry, working with other creative industry professionals (musicians, writers, animators, etc) to entertain and inspire local and global masses through powerful “celestial” visuals, stories and messages.

Demagnetise the allure of crime. Provide opportunities for youths to learn, grow and excel in such innovative and exciting areas. Inspire them to lift their disillusioned eyes to focus on the world’s largest stage – the sky – where all things are possible.

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