St. Maarten’s King Willem-Alexander inauguration program: 101 Cannon salutes by Navy vessel FrieslandPOSTED: 04/26/13 12:29 PM
GREAT BAY – Writing that St. Maarten is getting all excited about the upcoming inauguration of King Willem-Alexander would be stretching the truth beyond breaking point. There is no buzz in town, retailers have not jumped on the occasion –at the moment of this writing – with royal offers and Philipsburg now Simpson Bay are immersed in everything orange.
It’s all happening far away from our shores and that is the most likely explanation for this lackluster approach. All this will change when the new king and his spouse queen Máxima visit St. Maarten in November. If the memories of the most recent royal visit in November 2011 are any indication, the island does have a heart for the royal family, but right now, not many people seem prepared to express those sentiments.
The government information service RVD reconfirmed to this newspaper that the royal visit in November will take place between November 12 and 24, so we will not see Willem-Alexander and Máxima here on St. Maarten Day.
Still, our organizing committee for the inauguration of the king has set up a program of activities that started earlier this month with My Dream for our Country (mijndroomvooronsland.nl), an initiative that invites citizens to express their vision on our country and our Kingdom. The deadline for submissions expires today. The most creative, hilarious, moving and ambitious contributions will be selected for a book that will be presented to the royals. According to the local inauguration committee all families in the Kingdom will receive a copy of the book.
Earlier this month, Governor Holiday awarded Orange Bows to three organizations: the No Kidding with our Kids Foundation, the St. Maarten Soccer Educational Foundation and the St. Maarten Archeological Center Simarc.
Today at 9 a.m. the King’s games will open at the Jose Lake Sr. John cooper Ball Park with speeches by Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams and Education, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Silveria Jacobs. Participants in the games are pupils of primary schools. Who will start the day with a healthy and festive King’s breakfast. The games include a soccer tournament at the Johan Cruyff Court in Belvedere, a walkathon and a bikeathon. The Prime Minister will take part in the walkathon and Minister Jacobs will join the bikeathon.
The team that wins the soccer tournament will get the opportunity to meet King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima during their visit to the island in November. Minister Jacobs and Governor Holiday will be at hand to congratulate the winners today.
Tonight Governor Holiday hosts a tribute to her Majesty queen Beatrix at fort Amsterdam, starting at 6.30 p.m. This is an invitation only event whereby nine citizens will receive royal decorations – the last ones to be issued under the reign of Queen Beatrix.
On Tuesday – Inauguration Day – the royal Navy vessel Friesland will be at hand in Great Bay Harbor for a 101 cannon salute. At 8 a.m. the Friesland crew will fire 33 cannon salutes, followed by 35 at noon and the remaining 33 at 4 p.m.