The Central Caribbean Marine Institute held its eighth annual Festival of the Trees gala dinner on Saturday, 23 November, at the Camana Bay Arts and Recreation Centre. The centre was transformed into a glittering Christmas wonderland with decorated, lit Christmas trees framing the room, each uniquely adorned and bearing exciting gifts.
The Festival of the Trees in Grand Cayman is the main yearly fundraiser for the institute, which is located in the Sister Island of Little Cayman. It is an evening of wine, food and presentations about the local marine environment, culminating in the auction of all the donated trees. This year there were additional donations on the block, including a pair of diamond earrings from Magnum Jewellers, a personalised print from Cathy Church, artwork by Dready, and a signed print and book courtesy of Guy Harvey. The bidding was lively, with some tree packages garnering more than $3,000.
The menu started with a lionfish chowder prepared by Michael’s Genuine, a significant nod to the lionfish culling programme that is ongoing at the institute. This was followed by dishes from other Camana Bay restaurants such as Abacus, spearheaded by the charismatic Markus Mueri.
A capacity crowd was treated to a short video, which included interviews with the staff of the institute, along with brief introductions to students from the Cayman Islands and abroad who have benefited from their time spent in Little Cayman. It also highlighted the newest addition to the main building, a wet lab crucial to further marine studies, and the institute’s goal to finish the attached apartments which would enable international scientists to visit and work there.
“CCMI is delighted with the support from the local community,” says Kate Pellow, director of development and communications. “The event is the epicentre of our fundraising activities and crucial to our existence. Without the generosity of our attendees, donors and sponsors like Camana Bay, we would be unable to carry out our important work.”
The evening raised about $95,000 for the institute, which delighted Pellow and the large crew of volunteers that had worked tirelessly to make it a success.
The menu started with a lionfish chowder prepared by Michael’s Genuine, a significant nod to the lionfish culling programme that is ongoing at the institute.