The Cayman Islands government spent about $145,000 on the 2015 National Heroes Day event in January, including more than $54,000 for decorations, setup and staging, and more than $38,000 for food and drink after the event, according to information obtained under the Freedom of Information Law.
The amount of $54,470, the largest single itemized cost associated with the annual event, was spent on podium staging, seating for more than 1,500 people, decorations, wreaths, roses, delivery of those items, setup prior to the event and removal afterward.
The $38,324 spent on provision of food and drink after the morning’s ceremony, was spread among 14 local food vendors who provided free to attendees, lunch items including various fish dishes, conch, turtle, lobster and beef, as well as bottled water and fruit juices.
Cabinet Secretary Samuel Rose said no alcohol was served at the luncheon following the events.
“The idea was to spread it out, to use little local vendors,” Mr. Rose said of the catering. He added that specific orders were given to each vendor well in advance on how many attendees were expected. “For years, the protocol office has viewed the National Heroes Day ceremony as an opportunity for a wide variety of small local food vendors to showcase their businesses.”
Attendance numbers were estimated prior to the event as follows: 972 award recipients and their guests, 380 members of the general public, 200 members of the parade contingent and 45 platform seats for VIPs.
“It is safe to say well over 1,600 persons were in attendance, as seating was virtually full and there were significant numbers of people standing around without seats,” Mr. Rose said.
Catering costs for the event were met more or less as expected, but other costs came in higher than budgeted.
One of those costs involved the rental of a generator for the company that handled the audio production for the Heroes Day event. The quoted cost was $1,265, but government ended up being charged $3,749 after the “final invoice reflects replacement costs for missing cables, $2,054).”
According to Charles Gregory of Hopscotch Productions, the 50 feet of feeder cable used to connect the generator to the sound stage was stolen sometime after the Jan. 26 event. “There’s no doubt about that,” Mr. Gregory said. The cable was never recovered.
Mr. Rose said he was uncertain why the government was being charged for those replacement costs and indicated he would look into it.
The government’s total costs for the event, initially budgeted at $119,289, ended up being $145,227.25.
The cost was largely in line with what has been spent on Heroes Day events for the past several years, generally ranging from $110,000 to $140,000 per event.
Much bigger budgets were seen for the event in the 2008-2009 era, according to records obtained under open records requests.
In 2009, the Cayman Islands spent a total of $633,000 on Heroes Day – including $233,150.19 for the crafting of a bronze statue at Heroes Square, across the quad from the courthouse in downtown George Town. The “Aspiration Monument” was designed to honor the achievements of women in Cayman society.
In 2008, the Heroes Day budget totaled some $650,000.
Costs were significantly reduced for the 2010 event, and have stayed about the same since then, primarily because there were no expenses for the crafting of bronze statues. Also, the government did not invite the Brass Band of Battle Creek, Michigan back for the event.