The Daily Herald reports that Sabans awoke to joyous church bells on Friday morning with many rushing early to catch a space at the parking lot before the start of the official Saba Day festivities at Juancho Yrausquin Airport. Style Drum Band of Saba Girls and Boys Sports Society put on a great display of their marching and musical abilities. In the meantime, Winair flights kept landing at the airport bringing more official guests to the island. Raquel Granger was the host of ceremonies. Establishing protocol, she set the stage for celebrating the present and looking towards the future, while recognizing those who were vital to the opening of the airport 50 years ago. Island Council members Rolando Wilson, Ishmael Levenston, Shamara Nicholson- Linzey and Eviton Heyliger and their spouses were recognized first, followed by Island Governor Jonathan Johnson, Commissioners Bruce Zagers and Christopher Johnson and their spouses. Among the official guests were Dutch Government Representative Wilbert Stolte, President of the Parliament of Curaçao Mike Franco, President of the Parliament of St. Maarten Gracita Arrindell, Leader of the United People’s (UP) party of St. Maarten and Member of Parliament (MP) Theodore Heyliger, Vice President of the Parliament of Curaçao Haime Cordoba and Curaçao MPs Zita Jesus- Leito and Amerigo Thodé. St. Maarten’s Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure Maurice Lake and Island Council Members of Bonaire Benito Dirksz and Raynold Wilsoe were also present. Sister island St. Eustatius was represented by Island Council Members Franklin Brown, Elvin Henriquez, Reuben Merkman, Adelka Spanner and Millicent Lijkrock- Marsdin. President of the Council of Education and Labour Market and former Lt. Governor of Bonaire Herbert Domacassé was also present. The United States’ Consulate on Curaçao was represented by Morgan Miles and Danice Domacassé. Members of the Dutch armed forces and representatives of the various Dutch government departments in the Caribbean were also present. Among those celebrated on this special occasion was Chief Executive Officer of Windward Islands Airways International N.V. Winair Michael Cleaver.
In a solemn ceremony, accompanied by the voices of Saba Youth Choir singing the Saba song and flag song, Governor Johnson and Fire Department members hoisted the flag. Pastor Vernon Liburd prayed for leaders to work together and strive for unity in appreciation of all that has been given to this community. His prayers were also directed towards the youth and the pilots and aviation personnel who have kept the island safely interconnected for so long. He prayed for continued leadership as exemplified by the late Nelson Mandela. His prayers were followed by another song performed by Saba’s youth choir.
After the official speeches of the Commissioners, St. Maarten MP Heyliger narrowed on the family bonds that tie the islands together; especially Saba, Statia and St. Maarten. These ties are the basis making it worthwhile for the three islands to work together. He did not hide that Saba’s Commissioners “ask for quite a few things.” Alluding to his role in sending St. Maarten sand to supply Saba’s rocky shores, he said that “mixing the soil of Saba with that of St. Maarten is a continued family tradition. We will make sure that we have a healthy Winair to continue to fly our family members back and forth. You have my commitment that as long as I have the ability to do so, I will continue to contribute to the promotion of our families working together.” Heyliger also mentioned the fragile nature of tourism and the need to continually nurture it.