Pirates Week Festival thanks volunteers

From left, Darvin Ebanks, Orneil Galbraith, Melanie McField, Jessica Ebanks and Duke Tibbetts at the Pirates Week appreciation reception.

It takes a gigantic crew of volunteers to pull off one of Cayman’s most popular events.

The Pirates Week Festival office held its annual Appreciation Reception on Saturday night to pay tribute to the work of the people who help facilitate the bacchanalian celebration of Pirates Week.

The event, held at Royal Palms Beach Club, offered food, drink and gratitude for the dozens of volunteers who toiled behind the scenes to make the festival a success.

“For more than 40 years,” said Pirates Week General Manager Melanie McField, “Pirates Week has provided fun, fantasy and history to hundreds of thousands of locals and visitors alike, who seek to experience a festival like no other in the Caribbean and to create long-lasting memories.”

Awards were distributed to volunteers and sponsors committed to the Pirates Week tradition.

Patrick Thompson, director of the Tourism Attraction Board, expressed his gratitude.

“Volunteers like you are soldiers,” he said. “Sort of a covert army joining hands to make Pirates Week, our national festival, the best and most unique festival in the Caribbean.”

Long service awards were given to a crew of some of Cayman’s most prominent pirates: Orneil “Captain Gunpowder Wes” Galbraith, Duke “Big Cannon Jack” Tibbetts and Darvin “Captain Black Terrence” Ebanks.

Mr. Galbraith, the “captain” of Las Tortugas Pirates, has been involved in Pirates Week for 20 years, and his group encourages membership and travel to Cayman to participate in the festival. Ms. McField lauded Mr. Galbraith for his work in building props and event planning, and also his willingness to travel to the Sister Islands and to promote the Cayman Islands, its people and its culture.

Mr. Tibbetts was recognized for 30 years of service to the Pirates Week Festival and for his work traveling abroad to promote the event at Gasparilla celebrations in Tampa, Florida. Mr. Tibbetts is a member of the “Bloody Bay Buccaneers” and has spent countless hours practicing for his swashbuckling duties.

Mr. Ebanks was honored for 41 years of service in promoting the Cayman Islands through Pirates Week. He has taken part in each festival since its inception in 1977 and has traveled to Japan, South America and the United States in support of Pirates Week. Mr. Ebanks is the captain of the “Bloody Bay Buccaneers” and has appeared in numerous magazines, photos, television specials and other forms of media.

“We acknowledge and appreciate that the foundation of the Festival’s success is built upon individuals such as Darvin, Duke, and Orneil and their commitment to the Festival. Congratulations on your combined 90-plus years of service,” Ms. McField said. “Thank you for the many years of service and dedication to making our National Festival, Pirates Week the success that it is today.”

Kate Crawford was named the A. Mark Ebanks Memorial Volunteer of the Year, Parade Marshal Marcus Gremli was honored for his indefatigable skill and dedication to the cause. Minister of Culture Dwayne Seymour received an award for sponsoring the National Song Competition. Stran Bodden, the chief officer for the Ministry of Tourism, represented Deputy Premier and Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell in receiving recognition for support.

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