This year’s National Heroes Day will honour pioneers who contributed to the first written Constitution of the Cayman Islands and the first women who stood for election.
The celebrations begin in Heroes Square in downtown George Town at 9am on Monday, which is a public holiday.
“The creation of the 1959 Constitution was a great milestone for the Cayman Islands, as well as a catalyst that helped shape the country we know and love today,” said Alfonso Wright, executive chairman of Celebrate Cayman, in a press release. “As we celebrate 60 years of our first written constitution, I encourage everyone across our islands to attend this patriotic event.”
The celebrations will also recognise contributions of Cayman’s nine national heroes: James Manoah Bodden, Sybil Ione McLaughlin, Thomas William Farrington, Sybil Joyce Hylton, Ormond L. Panton, Desmond V. Watler, Mary Evelyn Wood, William Warren Conolly and Roy Edison McTaggart.
“I look forward to this day every year when we all come together to pay tribute to those who have made these Cayman Islands great,” said Premier Alden McLaughlin in a statement. “We have so much to celebrate this year as we recognise those Vestrymen and Justices of the Peace who understood the importance of the Cayman Islands being protected by a written Constitution, as well as the women of these Islands who fought for their right to be counted and bravely stood in the 1959 general election.”
The four female candidates were Birdell Jackson for West Bay, Ethel Cook-Bodden for George Town, and Francine Jackson and Laurel Watler, both for Bodden Town. Although none of them was elected in the 1959 poll, all had played roles in helping to secure equal rights for women in Cayman.
Cabinet Secretary Samuel Rose said, “Previously, local history books had not accounted for the very important fact that in 1959 four courageous women ran for public office and forever changed our political and cultural landscape. We endeavour to rewrite history to include and celebrate them.”
During the ceremony there will be a laying of wreaths and a moment of silence to commemorate Cayman’s deceased nation builders.
The celebrations will include pre-entertainment by Triple C School, a walk-past by primary and secondary school children in a flag procession, as well as the traditional parade with contingents of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, the Cayman Islands Fire Service, Her Majesty’s Prison Service, Cayman Islands Cadet Corps, the Girls’ Brigade, Scouts and the Seventh-day Adventist Pathfinders.
In case of inclement weather, the event will be hosted from inside the First Baptist Church, organisers said.
Following the ceremony, the public is invited to stay for live music and free local cuisine, as well as to tour the exhibits at George Town Library and Constitutional Hall.
The following roads will be closed from 6pm Friday, 24 Jan., until 9pm Monday, 27 January, to allow for setup and breakdown, and temporarily re-opened between 12am and 12pm on Saturday, 25 Jan.:
- The top of Fort Street at the junction with North Church Street
- The bottom of Fort Street by the Clock Tower
- Edward Street at the junction with Main Street
- The end of Edward Street, at the junction with Cardinall Avenue
- Albert Panton Street at the junction with Cardinall Avenue
Customers will have access to businesses and banking for those establishments opened on Saturday and the Monday holiday.
The celebrations are set to start promptly at 9am and attendees are asked to be seated by 8:30am. The dress code is business attire; hats are optional.