Parades and pageantry were the order of the day on Saturday when the pirates landed in the Cayman Islands – for the 41st time, to start off a week of fun and revelry. Everyone crowded around George Town waterfront to see what was happening.
The afternoon’s activities got going with with the traditional Cardboard Boat Race in Hog Sty Bay. it’s a great way for organizations’ to build team building skills too. Those cardboard boats might look funny, but they have to get right round a little island in Hog Stye Bay and back on to the beach (at least, 50% of them according to the rules, so there is hope for the ones that come apart while trying). Six teams took part, five officially, and one unofficially. The unofficial team, made up of four girls from Cayman International School, paddled their little yellow boat around the island and back to shore before anyone else had even got to the island. Next, (and the first ‘official’ winner) was Ted’s Tool Box – made by the Planning Department, who clearly know a thing or two about the properties of wet cardboard. Their great teamwork helped them win the 1000 dollar first prize.
But the fun was still only beginning. Next was a display of martial arts and after that, the amazingly talented kids from Dreamchasers dance group were chasing their dreams on the main stage. There was also an incredible display of acrobatics, too. Out in Hog Stye Bay, there was an awesome jetpack display, as the powerful water jets lifted the person high into the air, time and time again just like a Marvel Comic superhero.
The Big Island Schooner stood in for the Jolly Roger as the Pirate Ship this year, as the ship drew alongside the Jetty. Every year the (pretend) Governor, all dressed in 18th Century finery, waves to the crowd while boasting, “Don’t worry…I’ll handle this.” Then the Pirates jump ashore, and there’s a pretend scuffle – some lovely sword-fighting between the meanest, toughest pirates you ever saw and the English redcoats, before the redcoats are marched through George Town with their hands above their heads. I recognized two characters from Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean. There was a Jack Sparrow look-alike (so close it could have really been Johnny Depp) and a wonderful version of the terrible ghost-pirate – all covered in shells and barnacles.
The float parade is always a great expression of local creativity and teamwork and this year was particularly spectacular. There were mermaids, with beautiful long, colorful tails, waving to the crowds. The here was an old-time home and garden, there was a beautiful East End display with an giant pink conch-shell as centerpiece. Then there were ladies all dressed in traditional Cayman clothes, throwing out necklaces to the bystanders. There was a display of kids’ dance, and there was a lovely float dedicated to the Goldfield, one of Cayman’s finest-ever schooners.
Along with the pretend (Pirates landing) governor, the new Governor, His Excellency Martyn Roper was there too – all in blue fancy-dress. “I’m really enjoying it,” he said, “I think its really great that everybody comes out and I think its really colorful. I’ve just been on my first boat trip since arriving as Governor. I think I’m about to be kidnapped, but we’ll see what happens. It seems to be a lovely, really happy atmosphere,” he said.