At age 35 (Who’s counting? We are!), Batabano seems to have a magical or mystical quality not just to stay young but to keep young all Cayman Islanders who participate with abandon in the much-anticipated annual event.
This past weekend, hundreds of participants – and thousands more along the parade route – were treated to a kaleidoscope of colors and costumes, magnificent floats, musical rhythms and (albeit celestial) blues (the weather, a threat in the morning, by afternoon was no threat at all). What a perfect day for a Caribbean carnival!
We would be remiss – as would the entire Cayman Islands – if we did not single out, recognize and applaud the decades-long work of the undisputed queen of Batabano – Donna Myrie-Stephen. There is no other; she has no peer.
Miss Donna – no stranger personally to pageants (she is a former Miss Cayman Islands) – has struggled, battled and even begged (when it came to securing sponsors) on behalf of her beloved Batabano.
It is irresistible not to say that anyone trying to equal, or even emulate, what Miss Donna has done for Batabano should trying walking the proverbial “mile in her shoes.” (Most insiders will get the double-entendre: Miss Donna, in her “day job,” is the proprietress of Le Classique Shoe Boutique, where many of Cayman’s most stylish shoppers head before stepping out on the town.)
We are especially pleased to report that among the newcomers to Batabano this year were our new governor Anwar Choudhury and his wife Momina. No governor has hit “more keys on the keyboard,” as one veteran governor-watcher told us, than Governor Choudhury and his family in getting to know the people and the culture of the Cayman Islands.
They seem to be everywhere at the same time – we do not know how they do that – but it’s to their credit, and our benefit, that they have so quickly become a part of their adopted community.
Anyone who missed out on Batabano (and all those eager to go “another round”) will have less than two weeks to wait, as flocks of mas players will again take over West Bay Road on Discovery Day weekend as part of CayMas Carnival.
And let’s not forget the Sister Islands “Braccanal,” which also will take place the long weekend of May 18-21. Veteran carnival watchers claim no regional festival surpasses Braccanal in the “wiggle and jiggle” category, so “parental guidance” cautions are in order …
Governor Choudhury perhaps spoke for most when he told the Compass he hoped the organizers of Batabano and CayMas could put their differences aside and going forward combine their events into “one big party; we’re always stronger as one.”
We agree. Two similar events in such close proximity are not in either entity’s best interests, nor in the wider interests of sponsors, vendors or the general public. But that is a matter for another time.
For now, we cannot close this editorial with words any wiser (because they do not exist) than the title of perhaps the best book ever written on the Caribbean. The author is Herman Wouk. The title, of course, is “Don’t Stop the Carnival.”