Batabano: Don’t stop the carnival!

By all accounts, this year’s Batabano festivities were a complete success.

Thousands of revelers from all walks of life marched, danced and otherwise promenaded down Seven Mile Beach to the George Town waterfront in a wonderful menagerie of energy, song and whirling colors. The 31st Batabano carnival was a true celebration of life, energy and joy, providing an outlet of entertainment for Cayman Islands residents and putting on an unforgettable show for visiting tourists.

While the Batabano adult costume parade may have been a bit of an “eye-opener” for the innocent and prudish, even the youngest and most buttoned-up residents will be able to enjoy this Saturday’s Junior Batabano and Family Fun Day.

Starting at 1 p.m., the children will launch their own parade, complete with music and vibrant (and age-appropriate) costumes, from the former site of the old Tower Building in George Town. After the parade, downtown will come alive for family friendly activities, including face painting, mask decorating, snow cones and general, wholesome fun.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t give all the credit in the world to Donna Myrie-Stephen, the driving force behind Batabano for the last 14 years* (and former Miss Cayman 1981). The success of this year’s Batabano is the latest in a string of successes that occur year after year.

The sheer energy of the Batabano festivities, the consistent performance of Ms. Myrie-Stephen’s team and the compactness of the event scheduling strike a stark contrast with the comparative inconsistency and sprawl of Pirates Week, Cayman’s purported “national festival.”

If the government’s Pirates Week organizers are serious about injecting new life into the 11-day weeklong fall festival, they would do well to take notes from the Batabano weekend and do their best to emulate the personal example of Ms. Myrie-Stephen. (Note: The Caymanian Compass has been a sponsor of both Batabano and Pirates Week.)

The only exception, which we know of, to the overall positivity of this year’s Batabano was the unwelcome news that someone allegedly used Saturday’s street party as an opportunity to discharge a firearm at another person — evidently disregarding the crowd of bystanders in the streets. It was only through the grace of Providence that no one was injured or killed.

Let’s also give praise to Royal Cayman Islands Police Service officers for their swift apprehension of the alleged shooter, 29-year-old Todd Omar Bowen, who has now been charged with attempted murder and two related offenses.

In spite of this incident, this year’s Batabano weekend was one to remember. In case you had the bad fortune of being off island or at work while the parade took place, the Compass dispatched a squad of photographers to chronicle the event through images.

The results, spectacular as the costumes themselves, adorned the front page of Monday’s Compass and were featured in an abridged photo gallery inside Monday’s newspaper.

They also appear on our website or on our Facebook page.

* This editorial has been amended to reflect how long Donna Myrie-Stephen has been involved in Batabano. Prior to her taking over its organization, the Rotary Club ran the event from its inception to 1999.


  1. No disrespect to Donna, but editorial you need to get you facts straight before printing a story. Batabano is 31 years old and from inception until about 1999 it was run by the rotary club. At that point it was then incorporated and Donna took over as chair, therefore there is no way that Donna could be as you stated, quote: single driving force behind Batabano for more than three decades: unquote

  2. While the Batabano adult costume parade may have been a bit of an eye-opener for the innocent and prudish…
    Because innocence is bad, and not wanting my view filled with 100 women in their underwear while eating my lunch makes me pathetic…right? (Assuming you didn’t use the word ‘prudish’ as a compliment…)

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