City of San Fernando turns 34

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

San Fernando City Hall which is under renovation. –

SAN FERNANDO commemorated 34 years as a city on Friday.

A civic reception, where a number of citizens were honoured for their contribution to the development of the city, was the highlight of the day.

A J’Ouvert celebration will follow on Saturday.

San Fernando Mayor Junior Regrello said there is a lot to celebrate after two long years of unprecedented restraint.

“Our city and by extension our nation is ready for its new renaissance.”

In an interview on the eve of City Day, Regrello said, “We have something of great significance to celebrate in 2022.

“Along with so many others, we have passed through the ‘eye of a storm’.

“Uncertainty and hardships were the hallmarks of this global pandemic. All layers of society were negatively affected. Economic and social hardships ensued, and many have felt the adverse impact on a deep and personal level.”

In spite of this, he said, “We have witnessed the strength and perseverance of our medical sector, and we salute our brave and hardworking doctors and nurses whose love and dedication shone like a beacon while they worked on the frontline during this pandemic.”

After two long years in the shadow of this global catastrophe, he said, San Fernando can now say, “Let the celebration begin” – which is also the theme of this year’s celebration.

While happy to kick off a year of renewal of spirit, Regrello said the lifting of health restrictions and the resumption of schools, businesses and other activities has brought with it the challenge of traffic management.

He pledged to work with stakeholders, to find logical and mutually beneficial traffic management-oriented solutions and infrastructural upgrades.

This 34th-anniversary celebration, Regrello said, will be used as a clarion call “to reinvigorate our cultural, economic and social spirit back into high gear.”

He spoke of the ongoing beautification of Harris Promenade which has integrated local flora to mitigate the impact of heat in the city, plus a display of murals showing the city’s cultural heritage on the bandstand, meant to lift the spirit of citizens.

City Hall, one of the most historic buildings in San Fernando, has been ravaged by time, but Regrello said there is a commitment to ensure its preservation as a landmark.

During his tenure, Regrello has been renaming streets, which previously reflected the country’s colonial past, after men and women who contributed to the development of the city.

He said the redevelopment of the Skinner Park sporting facility and the continuation of the San Fernando waterfront redevelopment project aim to do just that.

“As we begin the celebration that we intend to take into 2023, we wish to express our gratitude for the continued work in our city and look forward to how it integrates into our localised economy.”

Responding to criticism from some quarters about his focus on “partying” and “fete,” Regrello emphasised that Carnival is a multi-billion-dollar annual affair.

“The City of San Fernando will seek out a share for our citizens to give thriving entrepreneurs the opportunity to diversify into a mature self-propelling industry that has critical world acclaim. This will allow us to grow and increase our business space into the service and entertainment industry.”