Editorial comment – Congratulations in order

2018 Vodafone Hibiscus Queen Jessia Fong, middle, flanked by fourth runner-up Rayshal Nath, first runner-up and Miss Charity Nikhat Khan, second runner-up Simran Nand and third runner-up Lice Yacadra, after the crowning ceremony at the Valelevu grounds last night. Picture: JONA KONATACI

It’s finally over! The annual Hibiscus Festival ended with a bang on Saturday night at its new venue at the Valelevu grounds in Nasinu.

And it wasn’t just full at the venue, it was literally packed to the brim.

It seemed every man, woman and child in the heavily populated Nasinu converged on the Valelevu grounds on Saturday.

The writing was already on the wall when the float procession hit the roundabout to turn into the road leading up to the ground. People packed both sides of the road.

By nightfall, after the crowning of Jessica Fong as the 2018 Miss Hibiscus, vehicles were almost reduced to a crawl along the road next to the ground. The masses had spilled on to the road by then.

It was good to see police officers in teams of four and five mingling with the masses. However, it certainly wasn’t a pleasant task either considering the huge number of people present. A couple of factors stood out on Saturday.

It was difficult to shrug aside the fact that the Hibiscus Festival does command the attention of thousands of people from all walks of life. It gets pretty difficult to get past that fact.

It continues to attract the imagination of the masses and draws in people from around the country. Understandably the fact that thousands of children are also on their second term school break does draw attention of that segment of the population.

The challenge now will definitely be on organisers of the Nasinu festival to emulate the popularity of the Hibiscus event.

Was it a success, taking the Hibiscus away from Suva?

That question will have to be answered by the powers that be within the organisers at the Hibiscus committee. Where will it be held next year? The winners got the spotlight on Saturday. They were the focus of attention.

We cannot, however, forget that it takes great courage to step up on the big stage.

It is never easy to front an expectant crowd, and speak out or perform in public. Each contestant from the princess and prince contestants, to the teens, kings and queens deserve accolades.

They are all champions in their own right for having the courage to live their dreams, and despite mixed reactions, turn up every day for the week-long event.

We can only hope they have inspired other young people around the country to step up for the challenge.

Events like the Hibiscus Festival are important for Fiji for they bring people from all walks of life together.

For one week every year, imaginary divides are cast aside for the sake of shared joy, fun, excitement and unity.

The Hibiscus Festival charity chest has long supported charitable causes in the city. It needs the support of the masses.

Surely organisers would have been happy with the turnout on Saturday. Attention now shifts to the young men and women who will be driving the charitable effort for the Festival of the Friendly North in Labasa this week.

Congratulations are in order for all the winners at the 2018 Hibiscus Festival, and acknowledgment for every other contestants.

They certainly deserve applause for participating.

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