The results are surprising and the comments leave little doubt: Everyone loves Pirates Week fireworks, and very few want to have much to do with the rest of the event – except for district Heritage Days.
The annual 10-day event kicked off this year on Nov. 7, lasting through Nov. 17 as waterfront streets closed, welcoming milling crowds of party-goers, dress-up pirates, wenches, visitors, dancers, entertainers, residents and beauty queens to the heart of George Town.
Pirates Week was started in 1977 by Jim Bodden, then minister of tourism. He was not celebrating pirate history, but rather trying to boost tourism at the end of the slow summertime season.
It seemed natural to poll Caymanian Compass readers about what they liked most about Pirates Week. The 539 votes – in five categories – almost set a record, but the 60 comments, among the most ever recorded, were more indicative, telling us, frankly, that opinions do not run high regarding Pirate’s Week.
The “other” category occupied the pinnacle of the poll, registering 189 votes, 35.06 percent of the total. Of the 53 comments recorded, more than half, 27, simply said “fireworks,” probably the least intrusive feature of the week.
However, dissenting voices cited a number of issues, which, at least for one respondent, threatened to keep a whole family at home next year.
“Used to be the fireworks, but this year, it was crap … next year, I will not even bother to leave my house,” the voter declared.
Another family said it had long ago wearied of the bad behavior on the streets and had abandoned the entire district: “Nothing,” said the voter, describing his favorite feature of the week. “Our family heads to East End for the weekend to get away from the madness and noise from the waterfront.”
One called it “a low-budget filthy fourth-world event,” and others variously decried the “drunken debauchery” and “the drinking and foolish phony pirate behavior.”
Four voters said “nothing” was their favorite feature, while three others said the best part came “when it was over.”
One voter despaired of the public display: “It disrupts the town and rubbish gets left everywhere.” Another thought “kids events” were the best part of the week. Two said “the food” was their favorite, and another thought “rum” was best. Still another plumped for the “treasure hunt at Divetech dive shop.”
Three people thought that “everything” was terrific. One voted for the street dance, while three others offered more-considered opinions: “It should be a mix of the heritage and parties,” said one, referring to the various cultural heritage days staged in each district.
“Pirates Week is a great festive occasion, unfortunately, it can’t be enjoyed by all until we make it a public holiday. Carnival is a time to celebrate, let your hair down and enjoy the blessing of life,” enthused one respondent.
And, finally, one voter tended to agree with the weary, the cynical and the estranged: “[I] don’t celebrate Pirates Week,” was the simple thought.
Finishing in second place on the list of favorites was “district heritage days,” drawing 130 votes, 24.13 percent of the total.
Only three voters lodged a comment, but all appeared satisfied with what they experienced: “The native Caymanians rule,” said one.
“The Little Cayman parade,” was the Sister Islands’ contribution to the comments, and “the food and seeing the Caymanian people come together to celebrate our heritage,” was the enthusiastic verdict of another.
The landing party and float parade finished third in the poll, attracting 116 votes, 21.52 percent of the total. Only four comments were recorded, two of them offering disapproval and disappointment.
“The floats and landing this year were a disappointment,” said one voter. “I hope they improve next year.”
A second simply repeated the overwhelming popularity of “fireworks,” while another enthusiastically supported “the international soca bands.”
The final remark, however, was deeply critical of the landing event: “The landing this year was terrible. Bernie Bush should be ashamed he left the post in such a state and not gloat over its failure. Shared blame all around here.”
Mr. Bush was executive director of Pirates Week until resigning earlier this year to run in May elections. He was replaced by Melanie McField.
The George Town street dance was the favorite of 62 voters, 11.5 percent of the total, while the cardboard boat races were named by 42 voters, 7.79 percent of the total.
Next week’s poll question:
Speed limits are under scrutiny, with a variety of changes proposed
What do you think should be changed?
All the limits should be raised (explain)
The current speed limits are about right. Leave them alone
Speed limits should be lowered (explain)
Speed limits should depend on population densities