Batabano 2013 kicked off with a celebration of its 30th anniversary at the Rooftop Bar and Lounge on the evening of Thursday, 28 February.
High-top tables were draped in colourful fabrics sporting feathered centrepieces, while impressive carnival costumes were displayed on the staircase and around the open-air lounge area. Pan music was provided by Michael Lemay, band director of Pan ‘N’ Riddim, adding to the festive atmosphere.
A large crowd of invited guests came out to support and congratulate the Batabano committee for 30 successful years, including government officials and sponsors.
Donna Myrie, arguably the best-known face of Batabano and chairwoman of the committee, was all smiles as she welcomed everyone to the event.
“We are very excited to be celebrating 30 years,” she said. “We are so grateful for the sponsorship from LIME we have had over the years. We could never have taken the carnival to the level it’s become without LIME’s help.”
She also went on to thank Cayman Airways and the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism for their support, and encouraged everyone to come out and enjoy Batabano this year. Ms Myrie further added that money from this year’s event would be earmarked to buy a dialysis machine for Cayman Islands Hospital.
Minister of Tourism Cline Glidden also took to the microphone to remark on the history of Batabano, and how it has become a staple on the local calendar.
“This year, Batabano reaches an impressive milestone,” he said. “The festival began to attract tourists. Since then, Batabano has steadily grown on the local landscape. [It] has truly blossomed.”
He said Cayman Airways and the Tourism Department were jointly supporting Batabano this year.
Deputy Premier Rolston Anglin was equally enthusiastic about the carnival’s anniversary.
“Obviously, the carnival started from humble beginnings,” he said. “Cayman is a small place, yet the organisers had vision and felt they had something to add to Pirates Week on the yearly calendar. Now when you see the excitement that Batabano generates; the costumes and the parade; clearly it’s something the people really enjoy,” Mr. Anglin said. “I congratulate the committee members and look forward to seeing Batabano grow still further for at least another 30 years.”
Many people may not be aware of the fact that it was the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman that actually started Batabano, and Ms Myrie recognised the club’s support over the years.
Chief Officer for the Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs Eric Bush is a member of the club and was also in attendance.
“We appreciate the Batabano organisation’s steadfast efforts, making Batabano part of the Caymanian culture,” he said. “As a member of the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman, I am glad to see it endure and go from strength to strength since it first began 30 years ago.”
The evening ended with a draw for a BlackBerry Curve, courtesy of LIME. Paula Smith was the lucky winner.
Batabano events run from 1 March through the beginning of May, culminating in the Adult Costume Street Party on Saturday, 4 May. For more information, check out the web site at caymancarnival.com