Bodden Towners hold New Year Garden Party

Myrtle and Oswald Thomas dance for visitors at the New Year's Day Garden Party in Bodden Town. - Photos: Jewel Levy

Bodden Town has long been the place to party on New Year’s Day, and this year was no exception.

Dozens of people turned out at the Harry McCoy Sr. Park to celebrate Webster’s United Memorial Church’s New Year’s Day Garden Party on Wednesday.

The church has been hosting garden parties for decades, giving Bodden Towners and visitors to the district an opportunity to take part in a day of fellowship, and, of course, a chance to indulge in some delicious local food and dancing.

“It was a good turn-out throughout the day,” said Kerith McCoy, one of the church organisers.

‘Aunt Sookie’ and Harry McCoy Jr. entertain visitors with old-time stories.

He said there were a lot of activities to keep everyone entertained. Aunt Sookie, Swanky Band members and saxophone player Devon Edie made appearances as visitors enjoyed an array of local food under the shade of the almond trees.

“The New Year’s Garden Party is one of the longest ongoing social events in the Cayman Islands,” McCoy said.

He said he heard from the older folks that the New Year’s Garden Party was launched in the 1900s by Reverend Thomas D. Redpath to raise funds for the church.

The Berrys show 80-year-old senior Edith Stewart some love. – Photo: Jewel Levy

According to McCoy, the first garden party was held at the old Manse on Manse Road. Over the years, it has been held at a variety of locations, including the Bodden Town Town Hall, the Civic Centre and the church hall before being hosted at the Harry McCoy Sr. Park this year.

“The New Year’s Garden Party is a cultural icon of Cayman,” McCoy said. “People came from all over the island to celebrate in those days, and still do today,”

He said he hoped that the church can keep the annual party going for as long as possible, but acknowledged that the faithful few who make the garden party possible are becoming fewer every year.

Reverend Godfrey Meghoo recalls hosting the night watch service and the garden party the next day when he was a young pastor.

“It was a great garden party,” he said. “I recall the late teacher Vernon Jackson pinning the tail on the donkey poster stuck to the back of the garage door at the Manse.”

He added, “People had to find nice ways to donate to the church, and the garden party was one of them.”

For most seniors, the party is a once-a-year opportunity to come out and socialise, dance and share stories of the past. For youngsters, it is a day of learning about past traditions and picking presents from the Christmas tree.

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