Belmopan Day Celebrated Print E-mail
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Thursday, 07 August 2014 00:00

Belmopan Day was celebrated on Saturday of this past weekend. Community members were out in good weather at the Isidoro Beaton Stadium to mark the founding of Belmopan City. In a formal opening ceremony, Mayor Simeon Lopez reminded the residents of the history of Belmopan. Also present at the opening were the Senior Steps and the Maya Harp Dance Group, who provided local entertainment.

Tents were set up at the periphery of the football field for various groups to showcase their works. Members of the National Emergency Management Organization were present to educate members of the public about disasters. So were the Mopan Maya and Ketchi performing their traditional dance steps and in full costume.

Entrepreneur Kahlil Salazar, owner of Caribbean Premiere Products was out in full force with his staff for Belmopan Day to exhibit a new line of healthy fruit drinks made from orange juice and sour sop. Caribbean Premiere products is a spinoff of Toucan Matches and their plan is now to expand in other areas of natural fruit drinks such as guava and watermelon.

In speaking to Historian Fred Hunter at a History Association meeting that was also held this past Saturday in Belmopan, the Guardian was told that the former leader of the People’s United Party, George Price, had instructed that all leaders in Government move to Belmopan by August first of 1970.

“In 1970, there was a plan for the tidy expansion of Belmopan,” says Fred Hunter.

But the idea for a new Capital in Belize was spurred by Hurricane Hattie, which struck Belize on the 31st of October 1961. The Colonial Office of the British Government immediately sent out a mission (The Pearl Mission), which recommended the construction of the new Capital inland and away from the coast.

It was in 1962 that a special statutory agency, the Reconstruction and Development Corporation (RECONDEV) was established for the purpose of administering funds for the new Capital.

By March of 1965, the Overseas Development Mission (ODM) gave the go ahead for the new capital project and by July of 1965, some 650 acres were prepared for construction sites. Work on the new Capital began in July 1966 with the construction of workers’ quarters by the Public Works Department. The main contractor at that time was the Pauling and Company Limited, London.

Public relations officer for the Belmopan City Council, Tricia Pelayo, would like to give thanks to the many sponsors who made Belmopan Day a reality and also to the newly formed Belmopan Celebrations Committee, who was instrumental in the planning. The National Institute of Culture and History (NICH), the Wood Stop Ltd, the Development Finance Corporation and Cool Delight all contributed towards Belmopan Day. Funds raised by the Belmopan City Council, from Belmopan Day, will be used in the upcoming September Celebrations and to defray costs that were incurred on Saturday.