By Christopher Tobutt
New Year’s day is always a day for Family Fun and games in West Bay, thanks to the hard work of a small army of around 40 volunteers, who freely give up their holiday time to help bring the community together, in the good-old time way. The Old Time New Year Family Fun Day is a seven-year old tradition, started by West Bay MLA Hon Tara Rivers, but she is the first to tell you that she couldn’t do it without all the people and businesses who step up to the plate and donate their money, time and things to make the day wonderful for moms, dads, kids grandparents and aunts and uncles.
“The purpose of today is to start the New Year off in a very positive family-oriented way,” Ms Rivers said, “It’s also a way to help the young generation connect with Cayman’s cultural heritage of yesteryear all of the games and all of the crafts are geared towards promoting that traditional heritage that we have in the Cayman Islands, and it’s also a way to help the older generation to reconnect with the Cayman that they grew up in. So there’s games for the young, and young-at heart. It’s a fun-filled day of activity, and everything’s for free. Free food, free soft drinks, free water, It’s also a way to help the older generation to reconnect with the Cayman they grew up in.”
Wow! Everywhere kids and families were enjoying the fun atmosphere. There were two bouncy castles, face-painting, hot dogs, burgers, soft drinks, chicken-burgers, patties… more than enough food for everyone. Oh and don’t forget the Sno Cones! Henry, a very tall clown was there, making children happy by making designer balloon animals – what do you want? A giraffe? A sausage-dog? A hat? A sword? No problem! There were lots of traditional games, too like hula hoops, and races (everyone from toddlers to grandpas joined in).
His Excellency The Governor was there, admiring artist Mark Ebank’s wonderful, brightly-coloured paintings of Cayman parrots and turtles, and all the other arts and traditional crafts on display, including Deal Ebanks’ Mancala (or ‘Worrie’) board, calved out of driftwood. In case you don’t know what it is, it’s a game played by moving seeds along a series of indentations carved into wood. It comes from Africa and said to be the oldest game in the world.
Next to him was Marlena Anglin: “I’ve got the finest straw work from the silver thatch in the Cayman Islands,” she said, and I live in West Bay, Grand Cayman, close to Hell but I’m still living in Heaven. My work is making baskets hats brooms thatch rope; anything that can be made out of silver thatch, and I’ve been doing that since I was nine years old, and now I’m 87 and I’m going to keep it going as long as God gives me the strength to do it. God bless the Cayman Islands.”
Hard at work serving patties and hot dogs, Betty Smith, just didn’t stop: “from the beginning, for seven years I’ve been doing it because I love Tara, and I love to support her,” she said. “West Bay needs something like this, the whole Island needs something like this and this is really important,” she said.
Nobody went home until they were full up with hot-dogs, sno-cones. But most of all, filled to the brim with fun.