Cayman Carnival Batabano, Grand Cayman’s National Carnival was established since 1983, by the Rotary Club of the Cayman Islands. The word Batabano refers to the tracks that are left in the sand when the turtles come onto the beach to nest in May. The tracks are reason to celebrate because they signify that the turtle population is replenishing itself. The carnival date of Cayman Carnival Batabano is significant to the culture and people of The Cayman Islands, as each year at the beginning of May, the carnival pays tribute, celebrates and heralds in Turtle Nesting season.
I, the Chairperson and the Volunteer Board of Cayman Carnival Batabano have been tasked with the duties of organizing, planning, soliciting sponsorship and executing the carnival for the last 22 years. To its credit the Carnival is in its 39th staging and is the mother of all Carnivals here in the Cayman Islands.
The staging of this year’s 2022 Carnival was particularly challenging as the world and indeed the Cayman Islands tried its best to maneuver their way through the disruption that Covid-19 caused. Its effects were also felt by the Entertainment Industry and decreased the revenue streams of many entities and individuals in our islands.
It was not an easy feat to plan and faithfully pull off a carnival parade and the pre-event activities with a limited timeframe, when so many protocol uncertainties loomed over our heads. The lifting of the road parade ban was granted only 7 days prior to the date of the actual staging of the road parade, whilst the advisory re numbers pertaining to gathering in one location came two weeks prior to the carnival date. Leading up to the date, the Batabano organizers were only planning a mini carnival release at Festival Green, in the event that the Government mandated ban on parades and carnivals remained in place, as well as the crowd restriction.
Not daunted by the task at hand, through hard work and sheer determination, the 5-member committee was determined to honour the May celebratory tradition after two years of no Batabano parade. As a responsible entity, we were also cognizant that the staging of this Carnival brings essential economically and social relief to Micro/Small Businesses, Patrons and Tourists. This year’s presentation was relaxed- it was a stress reliever for many, offering no band competition, no registration fees and no trophy awards.
Uncertainty breeds lack of action. Mas band leaders in particular, were reluctant to invest in costume production and band launches due to the uncertainty of us - the organizers - getting the green light to host a parade and full-blown carnival. Revelers were hesitant to buy costumes not knowing if there would be an authentic road parade. We have witnessed many carnivals and events that had to be cancelled around the world and in the Caribbean region, which resulted in many mas bands, promoters, costume designers, revelers being out of pocket and in a worst financial position than before.
Being proactive, the committee wrote to the relevant authorities, seeking clarity and answers to issues pertaining to staging, restrictions, and protocols. Because of unanswered correspondences, we were unable to provide pertinent information to stakeholders and the general public, which would have alleviated much uncertainly and ultimately offered comfort for further buy in and investor confidence all around.
Many thanks to Diamond Properties, CUC, Virtue Construction who saw our vision and believed in the product and financially supported Batabano. With the Government allotted funds - now spread among three carnivals in Grand Cayman - received on the week of Batabano, our energies and expectations remained high and we continued to plan in hope and faith.
On behalf of the Cayman Carnival Board, I wish to take this opportunity to thank the supportive public who came out and watched us on the road and came in their numbers to the first ever Carnival Village, the Mas bands for their tireless support, words of encouragement and participation with their limited resources, the sponsors who made it happen, the Government and the ever-faithful Masqueraders for being a part of Batabano 2022.
I especially would like to thank the Minister of Tourism the Hon Kenneth Bryan for officially declaring the opening of Batabano 2022 Season at our Friday Night Fete – Mind Yuh Business held at Sandbar and for his promise and kind words to give more support to Cayman Carnival Batabano. We also want to acknowledge the contribution of The Director of Tourism, Ms. Rosa Harris and her team for their support of Batabano 2022.
Although we went down the road this year without the usual glam, glitter and pageantry of past Batabano parades, we went down the road in high spirits and being thankful for life. Our people yearned for the much-needed release that Batabano parade afforded.
Despite the challenges, Batabano was still able to actually occur and be able to introduce many “firsts” for 2022.
A first for the new route
A first for such an ending venue
A first for masqueraders to cross an actual stage where band could meet band
A first for so many various nationals to be on the road with us
A first carnival village in the Cayman Islands.
We are proud to continue to celebrate “All Nations One Celebration” with a potpourri of people living here in the Cayman Islands, coming together at Carnival Village, Festival Green. Much appreciation to the Dart group for allowing us the use of this venue
, where we had several live performers – dancing, fire breathing and limbo acts, steel pan to entertain the patrons. Food vendors and arts and crafts artisans as well as a kid’s area were offered. Many thanks to Travel Cayman who organized the sanitization stations at the site.
In closing I would like to extend an open invitation to all for volunteers to come on board and contribute to making the 40th year of celebrating Cayman Carnival Batabano a massive unified success for all.
Cayman Carnival Batabano
Chair - Cayman Carnival Batabano