Cultural icon and Miss Universe 1977, Janelle “Penny” Commissiong is calling for a revitalisation of Port of Spain in light of the renaming of Queen Street to the Queen Janelle Commissiong Street yesterday.
Commissiong made the remarks during her keynote address at the Government Campus Plaza on Richmond Street, Port of Spain yesterday, in which she urged the Port of Spain City Corporation, business owners and public to keep the city's rich cultural legacy alive, by doing their part to preserve historic buildings and sites for future generations.
“I yearn, not just for the past but for the future of Port of Spain, the preservation of historical sites in and around our town and the revitalisation of Carnival and culture in the city,” she said. “Recently I was asked, what I would like the street to be called? I would like it to be called the cleanest street in TT.”
Recalling her youth, growing up on Oxford Street in uptown Port of Spain, she said that while her middle class upbringing was in stark contrast to those in socially depressed inner cities, she envisioned a brighter future for all of Port of Spain and reaffirmed her commitment to making this a reality.
"In my mind's eye I see the Savannah lush and green. I see Belmont, I see Woodbrook, I see St James as integrated communities, vibrant and alive, clean and the entire metropolis, a haven for a revitalised, year-round tourism industry and if I can, in any way, contribute to this vision, I stand ready, willing and able."
Mayor Joel Martinez praised Commissiong for her contribution to local culture and identity and said that the re-naming exercise was the beginning of new projects under local government reform.
"Our intentions are to preserve the history of our city whilst embracing and recognizing one of our very own with this honour. In this instance the re-naming of Queen street is multifaceted and commemorative as this will set the stage for the development of the city's landscape and infrastructure, whilst preserving our history."
Just prior to the renaming ceremony, a Carnival-like atmosphere engulfed Queen Street, as throngs of spectators gathered to show their support and adoration for the woman many affectionately referred to as 'Penny', as she stopped to greet her fans, beginning at the Picadilly Greens in east Port of Spain.
Onlookers were also treated to the sights and sounds of various musical collectives, from the Desperadoes steel orchestra, alternative music group, Holistic X as well as the Belmont Boys College Choir and the Bishop's Anstey High School Choir.
You can see some of the celebrations in a video Newsday captured below: