Crackdown after carnival complaints

Organisers of Batabano have moved to address public concerns over the behaviour of participants in the annual carnival. 

A committee met on Monday, 6 May, following public complaints and decided to impose penalties on some of the bands involved. They declined to discuss specifics of which bands were sanctioned and the exact nature of the complaints. However, the annual street party is routinely blighted by concerns over public drunkenness and lewd behaviour. 

While such antics are common in carnivals in other parts of the Caribbean, concern has been expressed that it is out of keeping with the Cayman Islands’ image.  

Donna Myrie-Stephen, who leads the group of volunteer organisers, said they had been forced to clamp down this year after a succession of complaints. 

“We do get concerns every year from the public,” she said. “Our committee does have a set of road and parade rules and we met with each group’s band leaders twice before the carnival this year to impart the importance of having the rules enforced and adhered to. 

“We also hire security to walk the entire route and we have volunteers as marshals,” she added. “Each group has their own marshals for their bands as well.  

“The marshal duties are outlined and each group’s band leader signs the rules agreeing to the terms and conditions. 

“This year, our committee met and decided that because of the public concerns received already this year we will have no choice but to enforce penalties.” 

A further statement from the organising committee said it would be “inappropriate” to say exactly what action it was taking in respect of “parade rule infringements.” 

Ms Myrie-Stephen said efforts had been made over the years to keep the parade clean and promote it as a cultural and tourism product. 

The statement added: “The committee has worked tirelessly over the years to raise the profile of ‘Batabano’ and our islands and continuingly strives to seek the participation of the entire community.  

“As a direct result of public concerns the committee introduced junior Batabano as a family fun day which takes place the weekend prior to adult Batabano. 

“Each band or independent wishing to participate in adult Batabano is required to complete a registration form confirming their acknowledgment and agreement to be bound by the parade rules and guidelines.” 

The guidelines, posted on the Cayman Carnival web page, explicitly outlaw “any visible display of alcohol, public indecency or unlawful conduct”. There are further rules against “playing” with mud or bodypaint and spraying any form of liquid at the watching audience. The committee has also urged the public to assist police in their inquiries into an alleged sexual assault on the evening of 4 May – the day of the parade. 

Police reported that the alleged victim has attended the carnival and a waterfront bar prior to the incident. They declined to specify whether she had been a participant in the parade or was a spectator. No information or descriptions were available for the alleged perpetrators. 

The woman was discovered in a distressed state walking along Crewe Road between the MiniMart and Ryan’s Road at around 9.45pm. 

The Cayman Carnival Batabano Committee said in its statement: “In respect of the alleged assault that took place on Saturday, 4 May, which has been reported in the local news, the committee does not encourage, condone or support any assault of any person in any circumstances and we encourage all members of our community to assist the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service in their enquiries into the matter. 

“Daily reminders in the media as to the growing criminal elements, robberies and physical attacks within our society should not go unheeded and the committee strongly urges all citizens to take as many precautionary steps as possible to safeguard their wellbeing.” 

 

Anyone with information about the alleged sexual assault can call the George Town police station at 949-4222, the RCIPS tip line at 949-7777 or Cayman Crime Stoppers at 800-8477 (TIPS). 

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16 COMMENTS

  1. This parade is disgusting. There is no supervision or policing, like Ms Myrie-stephens inclines.
    I saw floats after the parade throwing empty cups of the float on the road.
    This was in West Bay, I don’t think the parade went this far.
    Again, out of control.

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  2. I only attended once so called salute to Cayman’s turtling heritage. This was enough for me. I was deeply embarrassed for Cayman Islands. If tourists had known what exactly was taking place during the parade,they would not have never brought their children. Add to that lack of any organization, choreography or creative costumes. Absolutely disgusting and embarrassing event.

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  3. Not quite sure what part of culture Batabano belongs, but certainly not Caymanian culture…….the costumes themselves are inappropriate. It is time this carnival is removed from the calendar

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  4. I have to agree. What I saw during the event was half-dressed young women with sex appeal and men who behaved like dogs. Yes, they were enjoying themselves and who shouldnt enjoy him or herself, but they seemed bewildered that there were children amongst the spectators that watched the event. There was one foreign lady not local, who staggering all over the place not in her parade group and two men on top of her… I have nothing against parades and people enjoying themselves, but they should do it mindfully.

    That is why I think those in the parade shouldn’t drink. There are in the parade to entertain not get themselves drunk… There were also men behind the steering wheel of a large truck, drinking operating the machinery. I saw one man who was so drunk he was lying on the street.

    I remember Carnival was more of a family event. It was more colorful and you saw people’s talents. People danced, felt the music, and entertained the spectators with customes and floats, and parades expressing our heritage. It was never about the participants drinking themselves to death, doing lewd and sexually appealing jestures in front of children, playing some innappropriate music, and being half-dressed. I recall that same Carnival day on the news a woman was raped.

    Not to ruin everybody’s fun, but I think there needs to be more guidelines in place. The participants have to be more responsible on HOW they celebrate before the public.

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  5. I attended the parade 2 years ago and thought it was wonderful, up until the UCCI float appeared. There, in front of everyone, two females in particular were grinding against the males and assuming positions of sexual intercourse, but with their clothes on. I was disgusted that they would be so low class as to behave this way on a float representing their college. They should have been thrown off the float. Had administration of UCCI seen this, they would have been mortified. It was my 3rd time seeing this parade, and will be my last. Totally unacceptable behaviour in public. We don’t need dancers on floats. Musical instruments or steel drums, please.

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  6. 10:22:03 AM
    with all due respect you seem to be confused. We are talking about Cayman Islands national parade not people ENJOYING THEMSELVES on public. This sort of behaviour is a demonstration of degradation of values and morals. What really disturbing is that many still don’t get it, including organisers. This so called parade is an insult to spectators who unknowingly attended the event. This annual event in its existing form tells a lot about Cayman Islands and its people mentality. Lost souls.

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  7. What we need is a NEW committee. Take time soak in the views of all locals and tourist alike and see what people really look for in a carnival experience and give it to them with the spirit of Cayman plastered all over it!

    We are a country who needs to move with the times. The day of a Christian society and being a sole Christian Island is not what we fully are anymore and as a people we should learn to accept it.

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  8. To all the hypercritics and saints who had an issue with the Carnival before you start criticizing about other people please take a look at your life and for those who go clubbing Friday/ Saturday night and in church bright Saturday and Sunday morning don’t hate. A carnival is about people having fun and enjoying themselves. To the people who had an issue. Foot note STAY HOME!!

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  9. I love a good parade, stilt walkers, floats, and costumes, and wish there were more of these events. I really liked how the parade started much further north at Lime Tree Bay Ave this year, and so did all of the visiting tourists that assembled on the sidewalks as the parade moved south. That was genius; all future parades should go down past all the hotels. I continue to dislike the emphasis on overly suggestive gyration, mid-day marathon binge drinking, and the unimaginative and pandering mobile phone company’s that litter the road with their marketing chotchkies. These are not heritages worth celebrating. Also to suggest that open alcohol is admonished begs disbelief when there is a rolling semi-trailer bar car, crowded with parade participant customers, trailing a load of port-a-potties! If organizers constrained future parades to a G-rating they would surely draw broader commercial/volunteer support and attendance. I look forward to the possibility of bringing my children to the parade one day without embarrassment. We’ve basically written-off going to GT in the evening.

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  10. The organizers should be ashamed of themselves! What is to be expected when at least one of the bands who provided the costumes in bags put condoms inside each bag along with the costumes? That’s an invitation to bad behaviour. I love a good parade but keep the sexual stuff in your house and learn to behave! If the organizers can’t set out the rules for parades then I suggest we all boycott future parades.

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  11. Cayman is such a funny place. We can be conveniently Caribbean when we feel like it, and conveniently opposed to everything Caribbean when it suits us.

    Carnival is an important celebration with roots in the same Christian faith that you all boast so eagerly. With respect to its uniquely Caribbean celebrations, it also has roots in the liberation of slaves. Cayman was blessed enough not to have had extreme cases of slavery here, however, that was not the case in our own back yard. This is why carnival has become an integral part of Caribbean culture. One that I, as a Caymanian, am only too honoured to be a part of.

    With respect to Cayman’s version of this celebration, it is quite muted in comparison to the carnivals around us. But let’s forget that for the moment, because many persons’ opinions here are simply lambasting the organisers and participants because they are unable to take their children to watch, even though it’s supposed to be a family event. Well firstly, who said anything about adult Batabano being a family event? It is just that – adult. There is, however, a perfectly family friendly Junior Batabano that you are welcome to take your kids to spectate one week prior. Not to mention the family friendly Pirate’s Week Festival that you can wait ’til November to attend. Furthermore, in order to participate in costume, you must be 18 years of age or older. This is the same for nightclubs – you wouldn’t take your child to spectate a nightclub, would you? It is within your power to use better judgement as a parent/guardian.

    Carnival of any kind is an expression of liberty, of celebration, of culture, of colour and of creativity… and by the way, the tourists love it! I would encourage those with a problem with it to do the research on what it means to participate in this celebration, and what it takes to uphold this kind of festival, and get off your pretentious high horses.

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  12. I missed the Batabano parade this year due to a prior committment.
    Having read all these sanctimonious complaints I’m sorry I did, it must have been fun.

    Why should the ADULT parade be the same as the JUNIOR parade, held the previous week?

    For goodness sake people your children are seeing much more X-rated stuff on your TV every night.

    If sexy costumes makes you gag, then please stay at home. Because that is exactly what people expect as per the front cover of What’s Hot magazine.

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  13. Ok!, so we have had the same Cayman Carnival Batabano committee for the past how many years???? Anyone agrees that’s its time for a change? True Soca Lovers and Carnival Junkies Don’t be afraid to speak Up! Out with the old and in with the new, If Government really wants to make money from tourism then hand the job over to some younger more capable people! Look at the minority of complaints and compare to the Majority of people that actually ENJOY the little experience that we do have.. imagine if it was funded and promoted the right way!! This is a Caribbean Island, whats wrong with acting like one for once!! #YoungPeopleSpeakUp #WetheFuture

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  14. I think some of the costumes was outrageously inappropriate, disgusting and embarrassing with these young women with flimpy shorts suck in there xxx, how more dicgusting will it get? They should be ordered to wear a nice shorts.

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  15. I am curious…. why is it that in a so called Christian community, we in Cayman are so much against everyone else’s culture and ideas. Simply put, if you don’t agree with what other people want to do, is it the Christian way to be intolerant of other people? There are cultures in history who are intolerant of other people thinking and acting different from the so called norm. The people of these cultures submitted to the ruling parties and were told how to behave, how to dress, what music to listen to, what was acceptable and what defined as tolerable and allowable. Sounds a lot like what the Christians of Cayman that post here are advocating… it also has a couple of other names, Communism and Totalitarianism are two. Both the Government of the Former Soviet Union and Adolph Hitler were big supporters of that sort of control. Another country which was big into control of the population and used the excuse of This is how we have always done it so we have to continue doing it this way was South Africa… I don’t think I need to say more about being closed to new ideas and different ways of thinking.
    Good people of Cayman, don’t let what you don’t understand frighten you. No one wants to change the way YOU live your life, they just want to be able to live their own life as well. Respect others and others will respect you and the choices you make for yourself.
    A country that dictates what reasonable people can do or think is a dictatorship… and that is a slippery slope. Should the government then decide which of the Christian faiths are the RIGHT ones and which don’t fit in to the normal way of thinking. Which passages of the bible are saying what they want to promote, or more disturbingly, which ones appear subversive.
    Think about what sort of country you want to live in, Think about how much control you want to give to other people to control how you live your own life… Because if we go down the road of banning peoples expression of their cultures, then you must be tolerant of people who wish to control your own as well!

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