Yuletide magic and the City of Georgetown Editorial
Guyana Chronicle
December 7, 2001

FOR THOSE Guyanese who truly love the City of Georgetown and draw inspiration and national pride from its quaint nineteenth century architectural loveliness, the Yuletide is an especially treasured season. For it is at this time that the traditional celebration of Christmas weaves its magic on the minds of children and adults alike whipping up their excitement to a frenzy by Christmas Eve. The City is then transformed into a hive of activity with most people forgetting their pledges not to take on the season, and plunging into the spirit of the Yule by shopping for household items, sprucing up the furniture, daubing a bit of paint on the walls, setting fruit for the Christmas cake, and bringing home the ham, pork and meat for garlic pork and pepperpot.

By day parents with their young children move from one toy department to another enthralled by the cleverly manufactured toys that are on sale. Downtown Georgetown is ablaze with banks of brilliantly-coloured and exquisite artificial blooms. There are also boxes and bundles of glimmering tinsel for festooning rooms, pretty confections for adorning Christmas trees and gaily packaged gift sets, which constitute great ideas for those persons who are at sea when it comes to choosing personal gifts. However, it is at night that the City of Georgetown transforms itself into a near fairyland with wonderful and artistic employment of illumination. Hundreds of strings of coloured bulbs twinkle in the foliage of trees and among manicured garden shrubs; row upon row of bulbs delineate the lines of some of the capital’s most elegant buildings; and awe-inspiring Nativity scenes are bathed in soft glows. Families make time to move around at night just to admire the illuminations and to enjoy the expressions of wonderment on the faces of their little ones.

While the youngsters may marvel at the Georgetown Yuletide nightscape, the experience for the baby-boomers is one that recalls the glory days of this City when the then Mayors and City Fathers and Mothers prepared it to herald such magnificent occasions as the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth 11 in the early 1950s, the visit to British Guiana of Princess Margaret in 1958, the visit of the Queen early in 1966, the celebration of Guyana’s Independence in May 1966 and the country’s move to Republican status in February 1970. For the visit of Princess Margaret, so comprehensive was the level of decoration that the metal awnings of the Stabroek Market were decorated with huge clusters of paper roses made by schoolgirls under the guidance of home economics teachers. And for the queen’s visit in 1966, Georgetown was a City of lights with the centrepiece being the Town Hall, whose every graceful arch and spire was outlined with tight rows of white bulbs. Then, too, all the trees in the Main Street Avenue were threaded with coloured lights and most of the buildings along the carriageways were illuminated and festooned with buntings. In that era, the capital lived up to its description as a Garden City for it boasted tree-lined canals with the surfaces of the waters sliding smoothly under bridges with fretwork iron rails. Drains were uncluttered by shoals of discarded plastic containers and piles of rubbish were nowhere to be seen.

But the City of Georgetown has travelled a long way since those glory years and more’s the pity for its faithful inhabitants, who still detect many traces of its past beauty under the litter and garbage. This is why those citizens welcome the festive season and rejoice in their hearts that for next three weeks or so the illuminations of trees, business places and private dwellings will reflect the spirit of Christmas and, in doing so, recapture many happy memories of the old Georgetown.