Name under fire

A name change is afoot for Pirates Week.

The Caymanian Compass understands that the new Leader of Government Business McKeeva Bush made the decision recently.

Although Mr. Bush had not been reached for comment by press time, it is understood he had said a new name would be in line with local heritage and tradition.

Acting Director of Tourism Shomari Scott said, ‘The Department of Tourism will be meeting formally with the Ministry over the next few days to discuss all aspects of the festival formerly known as Pirates Week and we will be able to give an update on the name change and concept in the next two weeks.’

The Church community has long been against the association of pirates with the national festival.

Pastor William Peguero of Frank Sound Church of God said, ‘I feel tremendously well with the change. It’s something we endorse and have been looking for for quite some time, so we are delighted it is coming to pass.

‘We support the change of name and look forward to something more truly Caymanian,’ he said.

Speaking about the festival being associated with pirates, Mr. Peguero said, ‘If I call you ugly for long enough you are going to believe it . . . If we keep pushing things on kids they are going to act it out. . . It has a way of influencing the way you live.’

Mr. Peguero said that portraying the nation’s heritage is better, and something that many tourists have not been exposed to properly.

While some in the community are pleased with the decision, others are angry.

Mary Trumbach, daughter of the late Jim Bodden, the national hero who founded Pirates Week, is livid over the decision, both for personal reasons and for how she feels the decision will affect the incomes of people dependent on Pirates Week.

‘I’m extremely annoyed,’ she stated.

She explained that her father started the festival over 30 years ago, having been approached by local businesses and hoteliers about doing something for the slower period of tourist season.

She said Pirates Week has been extremely successful year after year and it has helped out local businesses, especially smaller vendors.

‘Changing the name is an insult to my father’s memory and to me and my family,’ she said.

‘They are just in office, why are they changing things so radically and so quickly?’ she asked. ‘They need to get feedback from the public on this sort of thing before they just decide.’

Ms Trumbach said that the tourists visit for the very reason that it is Pirates Week – a light-hearted festival.

‘I consider myself a Christian and I see nothing wrong with this festival,’ she said. ‘It’s also termed ‘Heritage Week’.’

She added that the festival has always been family oriented.

‘If they change the name, who is going to come to a cultural week? Tourism will suffer and the vendors will suffer. The worldwide economy is down so why change the name now?’

‘We’ve been successful for 30 odd years in the way we market ourselves so why change a good thing?’

Ms Trumbach said her phone has been ringing off the hook with people complaining.

‘I will be making a public issue over this. I’m very upset over this.’

Pirates’ Week was started in 1977 to give a boost to Cayman’s tourism industry during the off-season and has traditionally taken place in the last week of October.

In 2006, because of rainy disruptions over previous years, the festival was moved a few weeks down in the calendar, into November.