Fun and family at XMAS in the Gardens
Cliques of children capered with excitement as they explored all the rides offered at Funland, including train rides, water slides, bounce-a-bouts and trampolines at the inaugural XMAS in the Gardens, held at Hope Gardens, St Andrew, on Sunday.
Orchestrated by Hope Gardens' Nature Reservation Foundation (NRF), the event's aim was to provide a Christmas to remember for children and families, and patron Shamara Parker could attest to this.
"I'm really enjoying it," she told THE STAR. "I found out about this event when I was scrolling through Instagram and I took my niece, Ianna Brown, here to celebrate her fifth birthday and she is having fun."
The Parker family was just one of several seen soaking up the activities games and giveaways. In addition to the glorious rides, there was also face-painting and popular cartoon characters like Spider-Man and Batman a nice Christmas gift for some little ones.
Sound system Team Shella was also part of the entertainment package, before guest artiste Tony Rebel upped the ante with a riveting performance. Patrons gathered at the front of the stage as the reggae artiste, backed by the Riddim 2000 band, belted some of his classics such as Sweet Jamaica, Fresh Vegetable, Nazerite Vow, Chatty Chatty and If Jah Is Standing By My Side. In true Rebel style, the seasoned entertainer engaged the audience in anecdotes both comical and serious, while speaking about the importance of family. He was not all words, as he brought his six-year-old son Malawi Barrett, and his daughters Davianah and Tanzania to the fun day.
"The family unit in Jamaica is dwindling. When the family has strength together, or stays together a particular way, it makes the family stronger it makes the family structure in your community stronger, and it makes the whole Jamaica strong," Rebel told THE STAR. "I'm into family, so even though me no see a thousand people in front of me, me give it me all because it is something worth the support, and so me support it wholeheartedly."
Malawi captured the hearts of the audience as he displayed his 'Ravers' dance moves from 'Flairy' to 'Fling', while Davianah received a resounding applause when she performed her single, Wanna Be. While not a recording artiste, Tanzania gave the crowd a brief performance of Lioness On The Rise, recorded by her mother Queen Ifrica.
Rebel admitted that he does not celebrate Christmas, but said that could not hinder him from performing for the children.
"I love the whole camaraderie, and I love the whole vibe of giving that comes with Christmas, but me nuh like the whole vibe where people force you to buy things, so I'm a Kwanzaa person, I'm more into that," he said. "We don't make that because we are not into Christmas I couldn't come and sing for the kids at their Christmas, 'cause I know what Christmas is to children I was a child too, and I used to love it, even now I love the carols."