Changes approved for Pirates Week in its 40th iteration this year may be a “one time only” experiment, according to the head of the Cayman Islands Tourism Attraction Board.
Board Chairwoman Carla Reid said shortening the event from about 10 days to five this November, and consolidating Heritage Days into a one-day event in George Town, are subject to change if they do not work out as the board hopes.
“We’re going to see if this works,” Mrs. Reid said. “If the districts and the committee decide it’s a keeper, then we’ll go from there.”
There has been significant social media backlash since the Pirates Week Committee announced its decision last week to cut back on the number of Heritage Days events this year. In the past, each of Grand Cayman’s five districts had its own Heritage Day, in between Pirates Week events on the opening and closing weekends of the festival.
Residents complained on social media forums like Facebook about “foreign interests taking over and pushing out” cultural activities and asked the committee to “reevaluate its views.”
Ms. Reid said the board and the Pirates Week Committee consulted with most of the districts’ Heritage Day committees before making the decision, and those groups had indicated they were receptive to the change.
She said the board hopes to boost attendance at the combined downtown Heritage Day event on Nov. 13, which falls on a holiday, with a number of cruise ships scheduled to be in George Town harbor.
“The districts understood that this is an opportunity to do something a little bit different,” Ms. Reid said. “People are crying out for a little change [in Pirates Week] while maintaining the things that they love like the float parade and the fireworks.
“We’re trying to breathe a little bit of life into it and see what we can do.”
The new schedule means that all of the major Pirates Week events will be held between Thursday, Nov. 9 and Monday, Nov. 13.
The popular cardboard boat races are set to start at 11 a.m. in Hog Sty Bay and end around 2 p.m., about an hour before the pirates landing and float parade at 3 p.m.
The “Trial of the Pirates” – the traditional end of the festival – will take place around 7 p.m. Monday, after the Heritage Days event in George Town.
Friday, Saturday and Monday nights feature various street dances.
A number of other events, including a swim meet, a 5K sea swim, the Pirate Pooch Parade, two Harbour Drive fireworks displays and the children’s fun day on Sunday, will be packed into a tight Friday-Monday schedule.
The start of the festival on Thursday, Nov. 9, will feature a Pirates Week happy hour, steel pan competition and a kick-off party downtown from 9 p.m. that night until 2 a.m. Friday.