Guard No. 3 from the Coast Guard Unit and Guard No. 4 from the RSCNPF marches past the Governor-General. SKNIS Photo.

Hundreds cheered Thursday as armed and unarmed units on the field marched in a splendid display of pride and patriotism for The 36th Independence Day Ceremonial Parade held at the Warner Park Cricket Stadium.

The St. Kitts and Nevis Defence Force (SKNDF) had four platoons on parade comprised of soldiers from Alpha Company, Bravo Company (the Reserve Corps), the Coast Guard Unit, as well as the SKNDF Band. The Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force (RSCNPF) featured three platoons, including one made up primarily of female officers.

Other units on parade featured members of the St. Kitts and Nevis Fire and Rescue Services, Her Majesty’s Prison, Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise Department, the St. Christopher and Nevis Air and Sea Port Authority, Traffic Wardens, the Pathfinders and the Girls Guides.

The largest platoon on parade was the Explorers Youth Groups which had representation from all nine of the communities that have a club. Organizers said that there were some 700 children on parade.

The parade was commanded by Major W. Andrew Bass. He was supported by Captain Kenish Garnette the 2I/C or Second in Command of the Parade.

The Royal Salute was given to Governor-General His Excellency Sir S. W. Tapley Seaton, while Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris inspected the troops on parade.

Attending the ceremony were Cabinet Ministers, Members of the Federal Parliament, National Hero Dr. the Right Excellent and the Right Honourable Sir Kennedy Simmonds.

Resident and visiting members of the diplomatic and consular corps also were in attendance, including representatives from the Republic of Cuba, the Republic of China (Taiwan), the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, the United States of America, Canada, the Republic of Indonesia and the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. Representatives from South Africa, Finland, the Republic of Kenya, Jamaica, the Republic of India, France, the Caribbean Community and.

B’jorn, a young entrepreneur in his late 20’s, said the event was well organized and the pride by those on display was evident. He also commended the large turnout of persons to witness the ceremonial parade.

“I saw very few empty seats,” he stated. “Everyone came out in their patriotic colours as well, and it was really good to see.”

The young man added that he was struck by the large contingent of explorers on parade.

The sentiment was echoed by Emma, who said she looks forward to the annual parade, rating it as her favourite Independence activity. Her love for parades developed during her childhood, living within proximity to the Basseterre Police Station.A few years ago, Emma took part in the parade playing the bass drum for the Washington Archibald High School Band.

“I always wanted to be a part [of the parade] and I was happy at that time. …. I would go back anytime,” she said, adding it was like a dream come true.

Following the Independence Ceremonial Parade, the troops marched to Camp Springfield – Home of the SKNDF. During the Toast to the Nation at the Camp, Prime Minister Harris announced that there was a tie for Best Armed Unit on Parade. They were No. 3 Guard comprising the Coast Guard Unit commanded by Lieutenant Lenn Daniel, and the No. 4 Guard comprising officers of the RSCNPF under the command of Inspector Alrick Edwards.

The Best Unarmed Unit on Parade was Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise Department.

St. Kitts and Nevis gained independence from Great Britain Sept. 19, 1983.