Trelawny (Jamaica), Mar 12: Amid dazzling light and in a ceremony splashed with boisterous celebrations, Jamaica heralded the beginning of the ninth Cricket World Cup in a breathtaking show that vividly brought out the creativity and vibrancy of Caribbean lifestyle and heritage in a most spectacular fashion.
It was a night to remember for players, officials, thousands of guests and millions watching around the world as the picturesque Montego Bay organised a party that aptly went with the spirit of ''the Cricket''.
Different it definitely was. As the spectators were transported to World of fantasy and transformed into a stage for a one-off show that was heavily contemporary but could delight the old fashioned.
And later a coruscating fireworks display lit up the night around Trelawny and Falmouth and ignited the 2007 ICC Cricket World Cup.
Shining just as brightly was an array of musical talent from around the West Indies, and the best from the world of cricket.
Brian Lara read out the oath on behalf of the players and Sir Garfield Sobers declared the World Cup open, but sharing the limelight was an astonishing display of colour, creativity and vigour from all around the Caribbean, all topped off by a performance from reggae legend Jimmy Cliff.
Over the next 47 days, nine countries from around the West Indies will host 51 games involving the 16 participating teams, including defending champions Australia. The opening game is at the Sabina Park in Kingston on Tuesday and the final at the Kensington Oval in Barbados.
Over 2,000 singers, dancers and performers, including several of the Caribbean's top reggae and modern music performers participated in the opening. More than half of the stadium was reserved for spectators who enjoyed a celebration of Caribbean culture seldom seen at one place at the same time.
Against a red, gold and green backdrop also lit up by laser and lights displays, reggae stars Jimmy Cliff and Gregory Isaacs, as well as contemporary performers Sean Paul and Shaggy, entertained the crowd of around 10,000 and the squads of the competing nations who had earlier marched into the stadium in formal attire.
Chris Dehring, CEO of Cricket World Cup, a purpose-created body, promised that the World Cup would see ''the world's best cricketers competing against a backdrop of the most-blessed place on earth''.
What will remain carved deeply into the memories of the 10,000-odd who watched as spectacle after spectacle unfolded on the rich turf of the stadium was the sheer variety and vim of the performances.
The formal part of the show was gone through with quickly - the parade of teams, the politicians' speeches, the oath-taking and the formal opening. Thereafter it was left to the artistes and dancers to strut their stuff.
And what an incredibly varied spectacle it was that followed.
Glittering costumes and hairy costumes, elaborate adornments reflecting the spirit of Carnival, gyrating dancers, a dash of Bollywood in the form of Hindi film hit ''Mera Desh Rangeela''.
There was something for everyone.
Just how much the ceremony reflected the melting pot culture of the West Indies lay in the fact that the tournament was declared open by a Barbarian, the participants' oath read out by a Trinidadian, and it all happened on Jamaican soil.
And the best indication of just how special the evening had been lay in the fact that after it had all ended, no one wanted to go home. The party has begun.