Cayman will host its sixth annual Thanksgiving celebrations this weekend to honor its people, cultural heritage and way of life.

Premier Alden McLaughlin issued a message to the public Thursday to mark Cayman Thanksgiving.

“Once again we have been blessed with a hurricane season that did not trouble the Cayman Islands.

“It is for that and the other riches of our lives, that we celebrate Cayman Thanksgiving, a weekend-long national celebration to honor Cayman heritage, culture and our unique way of life,” he said.

Mr. McLaughlin pointed out that Cayman Thanksgiving started in 2010 when a young child asked her parents why the Cayman Islands did not have its own Thanksgiving day. Her parents took her question seriously and put in place the steps toward the annual tradition.

He said while the true Cayman Thanksgiving is meant to be a traditional Caymanian meal surrounded by friends and family on the first Sunday after the close of hurricane season, it has grown to include many activities.

Cabinet Secretary Samuel Rose on Thursday reflected on a recent trip to Haiti and the devastation of Hurricane Matthew. “The people of Cayman don’t know how close we were to living off of generators and corned beef,” he said.

He urged people to “pause for one moment” to give thanks at the end of Hurricane season. He recognized “the outpouring of community spirit” to support the people of Haiti after Matthew landed there as a Category 5 and caused the death of more than 1,700 people.

Cayman donated tons of aid for Hurricane Matthew victims in the weeks after the storm tore across the island.

Mr. Rose said he was in Haiti recently with his parents and reflected on how close Cayman came to being hit by the same storm before Matthew turned north.

He asked that people “not forget how blessed they are” and take a day of reflection on Cayman Thanksgiving Sunday.

On Friday night, a Music and Food Festival, inspired by Cayman Thanksgiving, will be held on the waterfront in front of Breezes Bistro and Lounge on Harbour Drive in George Town.

On Saturday, the Farmers Market will feature live music, baking demonstrations with local produce, food, and games for the entire family.

“It is there that you will find most of what you need to prepare that unique Caymanian Thanksgiving meal, creating a true farm-to-table experience,” Mr. McLaughlin said.

The premier said this weekend is all about giving thanks, and what better way to do that than to give back. “It’s the best way I can think of to demonstrate the Caymanian spirit of gratitude and caring for your neighbor,” he said.

He encouraged everyone to participate in community-based activities under the theme “Charity Begins at Home.” He suggested visiting the infirm, cleaning up a beach, taking part in the Christmas tradition of painting graves, or donating hurricane supplies and provisions to a food pantry or a neighbor in need.

He added that Cayman Thanksgiving also offers an opportunity to “teach people from other countries and cultures about our own traditions and heritage.”

On Sunday, a Thanksgiving service and fellowship luncheon takes place at the George Town Seventh-day Adventist Church after morning service – a joint initiative of the church’s Community Services Department, service leaders and community volunteers.

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