As noted in the tribute given at the blessing service on Sunday, 1 November, the first Pirates Week in Cayman took place in 1977 with the late Rudy Selzer as chairman of the first committee, with Colin Panton as his deputy chairman.
Over the years there have been many other chairmen (now referred to as executive directors) including Caroline Pells, Dick Sander, Bruce Copeland, Frank McField, Mike Lockwood, Dave Martins and, currently, Casandra Hibbert.
Probably the most memorable was the late Mike Lockwood who really became the chief pirate for 16 years.
The executive director has always been guided by an executive committee made up of people from all walks of life on the island. They are the ones that had the ideas such as the longest beard, culinary, songfest and costume competitions.
The tradition is still strong and new competitions and events are being introduced to the Festival each year; for example, the cardboard boat race and the steel pan competition.
The executive committee for 2009 include Anne Mason, representing press media and major sponsor Caymanian Compass, Atanda LaForest, representing title sponsor Digicel, Brad Ebanks, representing police – marine, Clive Smith, representing police – marine, Dawn Manderson, as float parade director, Derek Tibbetts, as chief float parade marshall, Fred Whittaker, as security director, Garth Ebanks as chief float parade marshall, Gideon Simms as Department of Environmental Health liaison, Chief Inspector Harlon Powery, representing police – George Town, Harry Lalli as marine and landing director, Jay Erhart, representing radio broadcast media and major sponsor Radio Cayman, Katie O’Neill, representing Home Gas as event sponsor, Sergeant Kim Ramoon representing police – traffic, Ladner Watler as marine director, Regina Oliver as street dance director, Rick Glass as landing committee director), Rosa McLean as tourism director and major sponsor Cayman Islands Department of Tourism) and Teritia Peart, representing as press media and major sponsor Caymanian Compass.
The district cultural aspect had its big send off in 1978 with the North Side day staging what many at the time considered to be a great cultural heritage presentation at the North Side town hall. The late North Side legislature Cradoc Ebanks played a lead role in this inaugural event.
East End, Bodden Town, Savannah and Cayman Brac came on the scene in 1979 with West Bay starting in 1980. Some of the previous district chairmen are still with us today and are still somewhat involved, including MLA Ezzard Miller, Buddy Wood, Trevor Watler and Jerry Harper.
An honorable mention needs to be given to the longest serving district chairman Alvin McLaughlin, who has run and guarded the memorabilia of East End for many years.
The district chairpeople for 2009 are Greg Anderson (Bodden Town), Alvin McLaughlin (East End), Dale Ramoon (George Town), Mel McCoy (North Side), Eziethamae Bodden (West Bay), Heather Bodden (Savannah/ Newlands), Clive Samuels and Kerry Scott (Little Cayman), and Delia Hydes (Cayman Brac).
In the National Festival Office, Pat Bazell-Taylor is the chief administration officer, Janet Robinson assists with coordinating the prize donations, food festival, children’s art competition, and sport events admin to name a few, Bernie Bush, deputy director who is responsible for the music and entertainment side of the event along with pre-landing, fireworks, and sponsorships.