A busy social calendar for 2009

There was no shortage of special events to attend in 2009, and there was no shortage of variety in the offerings either.

Fundraisers

The name of the game this year was providing a fun environment for people to raise funds in during this tough economy. Giving people a well-executed, entertaining event in return for their donation or ticket purchase meant that everyone benefited.

From the National Gallery’s geisha-themed fundraising ball in March to the Humane Society’s array of events, including a dog show, fashion show (featuring dogs) and a fundraising gala, the year was a busy one.

The Cystic Fibrosis Trust held its annual ball in February, this year with a Bollywood theme, which was shortly followed by Valentine’s themed fundraisers such as the Red & White Affair, which raised money for Roma Football Club, and the Cayman Heart Fund’s Red Dress Valentine’s Gala.

In May the Cayman Islands Cancer Society offered something different with a stand-up comedy show featuring local and international acts, called Laughin’ for Hope, which was held at Margaritaville to sold-out crowds. May closed out with two big events, seeing a return of the Petapalooza fundraiser for the Humane Society, and the annual Rotary Club Camelot auction, which this year enticed international supermodel – and Caymanian – Selita Ebanks back to the island to act as emcee. Imbuing the month with some Caymanian tradition, the Bodden Town Heritage Committee held a May Fest fundraiser, which featured quadrille dancing, local music and some tasty food and drinks.

The summer quieted down slightly but did feature a sizzling fashion show in July to raise funds for the Yentel McGaw Youth Community Excellence Award. Also, Cayman’s first ever rodeo was held in July at the Agricultural Grounds, offering something new to Cayman’s yearly calendar of events. The show raised funds for the Agricultural Society and the Wranglers Association.

Ice on Ice launched the fall fundraising festivities in September, hosted by Z99 at the Westin, with proceeds going to the Cancer Society. The month continued with two Humane Society fundraisers on one weekend – Yappy Hour returning to Coconut Joe’s, and providing much fun despite torrential downpours all afternoon, and the Lighthouse restaurant’s first celebrity chef cook-off was ideal for people whose love of animals is matched by a love of all things culinary.

October continued the excitement, bringing another celebrity to Cayman’s shores. This time it was Today show host Hoda Kotb, who not only spoke at the RE/MAX Breast Cancer Gala but also took time to mingle with locals and chat with anyone who wanted to approach her. October, as breast cancer month, also saw the annual Cuts for Cancer cut-a-thon raise funds for the Lions Club of Tropical Garden’s breast cancer awareness efforts.

To raise funds in a festive fashion, the Central Caribbean Marine Institute hosted its annual Festival of Trees and auction in November, providing plenty of happy bidders with a beautifully-decorated tree for Christmas while also garnering much-needed funds to assist the Institute with its research efforts.

Pageants

The pageants scene was alive and well this year with a new pageant, Mr. and Ms Set for Life, launching in July. Miss Cayman Islands, Nicosia Lawson, appeared at Miss Universe in August and soon found out she would be keeping her crown a bit longer, as the 2009 pageant was postponed due to lack of funding.

Meanwhile, the Miss Teen contestants were busy all summer making appearances and training for their August pageant, in which 16-year-old Jamesette Anglin, already well known for her singing talent, was crowned by former Miss Teen Jamie Rogers.

Free events

Many gracious businesses and organisations recognised the toll that the poor economy had taken on most people’s budgets and hosted a variety of free events.

In March, Early Childhood Services teamed up with Books & Books to launch its week of the young child. This year was the second that the department and the bookstore had offered the pyjama party, held outdoors on the Paseo. Local storytellers read to children who came in their pyjamas as they snacked, did crafts and listened.

If people wanted a day out, they would get one with the Million Dollar Run, held at Kaibo in April. Many made the trip up to North Side to witness the boat race and enjoy the live entertainment. The event, held on Easter Monday, was the perfect follow-up to another fun party event at Kaibo in March – Mardi Gras.

Batabano always offers plenty for people to do, whether participating in or watching the parade or even competing in the song competition. From a party at Pedro St. James to the Junior Batabano street parade preceding the adult carnival, the festival was a crowd favourite.

July featured Weststar TV’s Island Living show, this year held at Camana Bay’s new Arts and Recreation Centre.

The Yeah Baby! Family Expo this year moved to the Ritz-Carlton and featured the usual high number of companies participating, with booths, games and plenty of activities for families to enjoy. The event was held in September.

Camana Bay featured strongly on the events scene, building its calendar by offering free community events such as the opening of its Observation Tower in October with a family fun day, followed by a day for the pups with Doggies Day Out, and in November it planned an evening of carols and music with its Christmas tree lighting.

Pirates Week returned in November, amid rumours of its discontinuation or re-naming. The festival did not disappoint, however, featuring a jam-packed schedule with concerts, street dances, heritage days and parades.

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