By Christopher Tobutt
Although The Miss Cayman Universe pageant was cancelled this year due to covid-19, the Miss Cayman Committee received approval from the Miss Universe Organization let First Runner Up, Mariah Tibbetts, represent Cayman at this year’s Miss Universe. So it was a sad-but-happy event that saw the official crowning of the new queen, the reigning queen Kadejah Bodden, at Grand Old House, over the weekend. It was sad because we have had to miss one of the glitziest and most magical events on Cayman’s calendar, but happy too because despite the challenges, everyone stepped up to the plate to make something special happen, in the best Cayman tradition.
Speaking on behalf of the Minister of Tourism MLA David Wight took up the theme, “The ministry is pleased to continue supporting the development and education of young women through this remarkable showcase. Nobody will forget 2020 because the covid pandemic has completely changed the way we live, work and play. But we have adapted like champions to new ways of living, and despite unprecedented restrictions and challenges, our reigning Miss Cayman has demonstrated tremendous strength of character, serving as an inspiration and role model to other young women who are hoping to walk in her shoes in the future.
Praising the new Queen, Mr. Wight said, “From a young age Mariah has been making the Cayman Islands proud. She finished university with four degrees. Based on her intelligence, confidence, beauty and charisma and poise, I know she will make us all proud when the time comes. The role of Miss Cayman is often filled with glitz and glamour but I can assure you it also comes with great responsibility. On behalf of the Ministry of Tourism I wish to congratulate Mariah, and wish her all the very best as she embarks on this exciting and life-changing journey.
Taking the podium, Kadejah gave her final speech as Miss Cayman. “A year and some months ago I embarked on a journey that would change my life in ways that I didn’t anticipate. I took the role head on, overwhelmed with all the ways I wanted to make a change. But I was unprepared with how much the role would change me,” she said.
“This past year has been filled with excitement, growth, gratitude and a renewed perspective. I immediately took on a more active role in the community, not only because I wanted to take part, but because I wanted to use my new influence to encourage others to do the same. Being able to bring the Cayman Islands to the Miss Universe stage of 90 other beautiful women from around the world at the Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta is probably one of the most surreal moments of my life, and a memory I will always cherish and hold extremely dear to me.”
Just like Cinderella, every girl in Cayman can dream big. And it was just like something out of a fairytale when Reigning Queen Kadejah gracefully took the beautiful crown from her own head, and regally placed it on top of the head of Cayman’s new Queen, Mariah Tibbetts. Cameras flashed, hands were clasped together in delight, cheers went up, and tears of joy were shed. Such is the magic of Miss Cayman, and no pandemic can take that away.
The New Queen Miss Cayman Islands Universe 2020 walked and waved and greeted and was hugged by many. “I feel so grateful,” she said, “last year when I gained First Runner Up, I kind of accepted it and I grew and learned from it, and I supported Kadejah in any way that I could. But I feel like I have been given a second chance and I really want to make the most of it.”