The business end of Seven Mile Beach was open for pleasure on Saturday, when the Cayman Port opened to the community for its Family Fun Day. The public was treated to music, free boat rides and a host of games and activities for children in a scenic location right on the water.
The celebration, timed to coincide with the port’s 40th anniversary, kicked off at 1 p.m., and the first 250 guests to arrive were awarded free gifts. The party wound through the afternoon and into the night, when the port celebrated its milestone birthday with a fireworks display over the water at 8 p.m.
Robynette Hera, deputy director and chief operating officer of the port, said the Port Authority hoped to make this an annual occurrence and that it was a thrill to celebrate with the community.
“The main goal of today is to celebrate the port’s 40th anniversary,” she said Saturday. “We want to showcase that the port is connected to the community, so we opened our gates to the community and offered a lot of fun activities for kids of all ages.… We have free boat rides on the glass-bottomed boat and the tender boats, courtesy of our partners Atlas Submarine and Caribbean Marine Services. We have water slides and we even have our equipment and our guys out there just giving kids a tour.”
The port, which opened on July 16, 1977, now has 151 employees, and it unloaded more than 270,000 tons of cargo last year. The heavy lifting equipment was still there on Saturday, but it was supplemented by water slides, an inflatable castle and food booths bringing local cuisine to the public.
Kids had the opportunity to have their faces painted and to observe a magic show, and there were DJs, dancers and a dunking booth for the adult segment of the community to enjoy.
Lines to join an excursion on the glass-bottom boat filled up as soon as the gates opened.
Ms. Hera said she expected a steady stream of people to come through the gates on Saturday. That was rewarding, she said, because so many of the workers had spent time in making it happen.
“There’s so many details that went into this and everybody at the port pitched in,” said Ms. Hera. “They accepted my calls in the middle of the night. Especially our night crew. ‘Can you come set this up?’ They were already working on the port and had to say, ‘OK, Robyn, we’ll come and help.’”
Arlene and Irving Williams, longtime residents of Cayman, sat and waited for the second run of the glass-bottom boat and seemed to be enjoying the day. Ms. Williams, 77 years old, worked for the Port Authority for decades, and Mr. Williams, 78, said they had looked forward to this event.
“We live in Grand Cayman, but we’re living right now in Cayman Brac,” he said. “We’ve been here for about a month and knew they were going to have this, so we were lucky to be here. [The glass boat] is a good attraction. Second to the submarine, it’s about as good as you can get. It’s really nice to see the coral reefs and fish. It shows they’re really taking care of the coral and sea life, which is very important.”
Another guest, Terry-Ann Brown, came with her daughter, her sister and her nieces. Her sister works for the port, said Ms. Brown, but it was a treat for the rest of the family to peek behind the scenes.
“I’m not sure what to expect. I’m bringing my daughter and nieces to have some fun,” she said. “My daughter has never been here before. I’m looking forward to whatever they have to offer because it’s free.”