Jamaica Gleaner / Janet Silvera, Senior Gleaner Writer Jamaicans living as far away as Canada, Texas, California, Georgia, Florida and as close as Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland, invaded upstate New York’s Bear Mountain State Park last Saturday.
More than 300 Montegonians, sprinkled with some Trinidadians and Guyanese, donned black, green and gold in celebration
of the annual MoBay All Schools Reunion.
The family-oriented event, now in its 25th year, was first hosted in Spruce Run, New Jersey, by a group of young men, all former members of the Hillview Baptist Church at Albion, Montego Bay.
The event later moved to Pocono, Pennsylvania, and found a permanent home at Bear Mountain approximately 10 years ago, said Jerry Dillon, one of the founders.
According to Dillon, each person brings a dish of Jamaican food, and last Saturday was no different. In fact, each person seemed to have brought about five different dishes, consisting of the traditional ackee and salt fish, festival, fried dumplings, curried goat, escoveitch fish, jerked pork and chicken, roasted breadfruit, topped with sweet potato and cornmeal pudding and banana bread.
There was no reggae music owing to the no-music rules at Bear Mountain, but there was also no need, because the laughter, camaraderie and the good-natured rivalry between the Montego Bay High School and Mount Alvernia High past students were alive and well.
The Cornwallians (Cornwall College old boys) remained in the middle, while past students of St James High, Herbert Morrison, and Harrison Memorial watched with fervour on the sidelines.
It was a day that facilitated reconnections among persons who haven’t seen each other in 20 or 30 years. It was a day to enjoy Jamaican culture while celebrating the outdoors of the park situated in the rugged mountains rising from the west bank of the Hudson River. Bear Mountain features a large play field, shaded picnic groves, lakes and river fishing access, a swimming pool, trail-side museums, a zoo, hiking, biking, and cross-country ski trails. There is also an outdoor rink which is open to ice skaters from late October through to mid-March. The Perkins Memorial Tower atop Bear Mountain affords spectacular views of the park, the Hudson Highlands, and Harriman State Park.
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