Jamaica brings cool ‘Christmas’ to hot July


By LPR Staff

Loosely translated, the word “jamaica” means “a gathering of people.”

Historically speaking, St. Mary’s of the Visitation Catholic Church used to have annual “festivals,” but one year, an enterprising Father Tom Frank decided to call the festival “jamaica.”

Since then, every July, St. Mary’s

Annual Jamaica lives up to the loose translation of its name – and far more.
Punctuated with locally-famous food including tamales, barbacoa tacos and carne guisada, the 34th annual Jamaica will embrace a “Christmas in July” theme this year, complete with an opportunity for children to have their photos taken with Santa while he is on his summer vacation in Texas.

Jamaica festivities kick off at 6 p.m. on Friday, July 24, when the food and game booths open on the Jamaica Grounds adjacent to St. Mary’s on the corner of Pecan and Church Streets. Entertainment will continue throughout the evening as children and adults alike enjoy games and bingo, shopping at the arts and crafts booths and the Country Store, and partaking of a wide variety of snacks and drinks.

Although coolers are not welcome on the Jamaica Grounds, visitors are encouraged to bring their lawn chairs and take a seat to enjoy the music of Grupo Vida, who take the stage at 8:30 p.m.

As Friday evening draws to a close, Father Robert Becker and the Jamaica Committee will recognize the two young ladies vying for the title of Jamaica Queen 2009, Juliet Olivarez, the daughter of Robert and Dora Nunez, and Audrey “AJ” Parra, the daughter of Stephen and Bertha Parra.

The new Queen will be announced during the coronation ceremony beginning at 10 p.m.

As the heat of the day passes on Saturday, the Jamaica Grounds will reopen at 6 p.m.

Grammy Award winner Little Joe y Familia will return to the Jamaica Stage once again this year to offer local residents a high-energy, star-caliber performance under the stars.

As Little Joe entertains the crowd, Santa is expected to sneak in to the Jamaica Grounds from his vacation home to pose for pictures beginning at 9:30 p.m.

Finally, at 11 p.m., the Jamiaca Raffle drawing will be held to determine the winners of this year’s prizes, gift certificates and religious items valued up to $2,500.

Daily admission for Jamaica is $3 for teens and adults. Seniors and children under 12 are admitted free.


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