Onclement weather spoils the 'big plans' Port Lucaya Marketplace had for contestants
By GENEA NOEL
Freeport News Reporter
Inclement weather on Sunday spoiled big plans that the Port Lucaya Marketplace had for the contestants of the 2009 Miss Universe competition.
As the swimsuit presentation of the pageant was held across the street at the Our Lucaya Resort, officials had planned a cocktail reception for 30 of the global participants.
According to Karen Ferguson-Bain, entertainment and marketing coordinator, much effort went into preparing for the contestants and the visit of the reigning Miss Universe, Dayana Mendoza.
"Unfortunately the inclement weather spoiled the day for us and we had to take down all of the decor and we had to rearrange some things," Ferguson-Bain said.
She said the day was not totally ruined as Mendoza and her camera crew were still able to visit the marketplace and merchants, visitors and locals were enthused about her final arrival.
"Many persons showed up hoping to see her, Miss Bahamas and all the contestants," Ferguson-Bain said. "They were delighted and happy that she came over so it was a success nonetheless."
Ferguson-Bain added that many of the Philippine residents that are employed in the marketplace were also thrilled about the visit and had hoped to get a chance to see their queen.
As The Bahamas is the smallest country to host the Miss Universe pageant, Ferguson-Bain said that the visit to the island was a special treat for residents who wanted to be a part of the historic occasion.
"People were disappointed because of the rain but everyone was still excited about an actual event being hosted here in Grand Bahama," she said.
She noted that the international exposure that the pageant provides will give the tourism industry, especially on the island, a much needed boost.
"It will bring a wealth of exposure to Grand Bahama and the Port Lucaya Market-place," Ferguson-Bain said. "The Miss Universe pageant will be shown to more than 84 countries with about 180 million viewers and the Grand Bahama Port Authori-ty or the Ministry of Tourism could not have paid for advertisement dollars be-cause of the far-reaching effects."
Ferguson-Bain said that it is expected that the participants will share their experiences about The Bahamas with others who would want to travel and experience the islands for themselves.
Although the majority of the stores in the Marketplace were closed on Sunday, Ferguson-Bain said that many of the bars and restaurants were able to accommodate the visitors.
Sonia Lockhart, a waitress at Zorba's Restaurant, said that there was an influx of customers after the swimsuit presentation, who were mostly locals.
"We got a lot of support from the local community who came over after the show for something to eat," she said. "They should offer more events in Grand Bahama to increase business and stimulate the local economy"
"Luciano" of the Corner Bar and Bistro said that they were disappointed the contestants were unable to come to the Marketplace, noting that business could have been better.
"We did not have many persons come over to us and the rain turned many customers away," he said.
Stacy Watkine, a barmaid at The Pub at Port Lucaya, said many persons were expecting to see the contestants and were upset that the plans were rained out.
"The rain really dampened their spirits, but business was okay," Watkine said. "We still had persons who bought drinks but everyone was mainly hanging around hoping to see one of the queens."
Before Mendoza left the Marketplace, Hannes Babak, chairman of the GBPA, presented her with a junkanoo painting by a local artist, and Miss Bahamas, Kiara Sher-man, was presented with a GBPA gold coin after the swimsuit competition.