It started at 4pm, but Saturday Night Live did not really take off until, well, Saturday night. At 5pm, a few food vendors lining Harbour Drive, backed by Hog Sty Bay, stood in idle anticipation. The four-piece jazz band Pa’lante! was warming up without an audience. A couple of people ordered beers at a bar stand.
But by 6:30pm, there were lines at the food stalls, a small cluster of people were perched in front of the bandstand and more than 100 people were milling about in the half-block area reserved for the occasion.
The event is the first in what is expected to be a monthly series of happenings designed to help bring more people to George Town’s waterfront. Saturday’s event ran until 11pm.
“This is exceptional,” said former MLA Lucille Seymour, who moments before had been inspired to perform a few dance steps to the music. “I’ve always been a fan of the revitalisation of George Town. In my day, growing up here, it was exciting.”
Seymour said she’s happy to see the community working with the government to promote the area. She sees it impacting locals as well as visitors.
“When the cruise ship people come here, this is what they see prima facie,” she said. “This will give them a better impression. We need the [business] owners and the government to come together to make sure it’s the best waterfront in the Caribbean.”
Jessie Dixon came with some friends visiting from Barbados. She was pleased to see an event in an area often quiet on weekend nights.
“I think it would be good to bring back some life to the city,” she said.
At one end of the mini-festival, the scent of grilled meat drifted from the Burger Shack food truck. The Food Vault was serving conch fritters and other Caymanian dishes. Spicy street tacos were available from Agave. And Gelato and Co was scooping up frozen treats.
South Sound resident Corleen Goodman said she was enjoying the atmosphere.
“It would be nice to have something to do in George Town on a regular basis,” she said.
What would help the downtown area even more, she said, would be the construction of more residential space among the commercial and financial businesses.
There have been similar efforts to generate more weekend nightlife in George Town in the past. But a series of concert/culinary events several years ago drew few people.
With a buzzing crowd around her, Seymour said she thinks the latest revitalisation effort will be more successful.
“Now,” she said, “it’s becoming a reality.”