It’s December and Bahamians are getting ready for Christmas. Notwithstanding challenges with hurricane recovery in Abaco and Grand Bahama, a tourism sector struggling to convince the world that The Bahamas is still open for business post-Dorian and an unexpected and shocking new blacklisting of the financial services sector by France, Bahamians love and will enjoy Christmas.
A hullabaloo is brewing over decoration of the national Christmas tree; more on that later.
We take the opportunity to suggest that before we are accused of covering up underlying problems in our city center by hanging glittery objects along our streets we might actually act to make our capital city and island more attractive and appealing this Christmas.
The deteriorated state of downtown Nassau has long been lamented. Visible enhancements are few.
In many cases significant improvement can be realized just by removing litter on a daily basis and regularly power washing sidewalks and building fronts.
Renovations of far too many government-owned building in the downtown area remain stalled. The installation of plastic foliage along the Bay Street façade of the Adderley building will certainly qualify as our attempt to “put lipstick on a pig”. Other publicly owned buildings in the heart of Nassau are in similar disrepair, whether the Rodney Bain Building at Shirley Street and Parliament Street, the old post office on East Hill Street or the Bolam Bank Building on George Street. Each contributes to the tattered look of downtown Nassau. None offer a glimmer of hope that repairs are forthcoming.
The picture is no better on the private sector front. Privately owned buildings that once housed a variety of shops and businesses stand abandoned, particularly along Bay Street between East Street and Christie Street. Owners are apparently not motivated enough to access customs duty and real property tax concessions available as incentives to upgrade downtown properties.
And, the western end of Arawak Cay continues to resemble a dump – the storehouse for rusted and dilapidated boats. Surely someone in authority can require the owners to remove their offending vessels or suffer the loss of them in very short order.
Farther west, failure to improve our sea defenses has left sections of West Bay Street perilously susceptible to inundation from the sea during high tides or inclement weather. It seems to us that more focused attention must be placed on ensuring that this principal sea-side entryway to hotels and residential neighborhoods in Cable Beach and then onward to Nassau, is better protected.
The Bay Street Christmas tree
Beauty, they say, is in the eye of the beholder. Once again this year, efforts to prepare downtown Nassau for the Yuletide season have come up short for some in the community.
From those who claim the decorations being applied to the official Bay Street Christmas tree are too large and appear “fake”, to others who are confounded that the tree is being decorated with images of sea life and further others whose first reaction to seeing the tree is to question how much money is being spent to decorate it, one is inclined to ask if it would not be best if no decoration was undertaken at all.
We have tried but cannot find what would qualify as a non-fake Christmas tree ornament. As for decorations depicting sea life; we find it difficult to understand why these would not be preferable to reindeers, Santa dressed in a red wool suits, icicles and snow.
We live in the tropics after all.
Christmas is meant to be a time for good cheer, of wishing peace and goodwill to all as we recall the birth of Jesus.
This has been a particularly difficult year for The Bahamas topped off by the devastating blow by Hurricane Dorian which took many lives, left thousands of others homeless, brought new challenges to our tourism sector and increased the number of unemployed. Most recently, we have suffered another attack on our financial services sector.
This may be just the time to stop, take a deep breath and smile. Decorating the Christmas tree must not be allowed to spoil the true meaning of Christmas.