People all over the world have been applauding the hard work of healthcare personnel, supermarket staff, police and anyone risking their health to help others.
Residents of Cayman are no exception. From conch shells being blown, to dancing on the balconies of condos, clapping from doorsteps, and creating an outdoor art gallery, they are displaying Caymankind at its best.
Nicola Agemian in Snug Harbour was browsing Facebook on the same day that the 24-hour lockdown was in place. “I came across the ‘show your appreciation’ post to our essential workers,” she said.
“Snug Harbour has a wonderful Neighbourhood Watch programme, so I reached out on our discussion board to suggest that our community come out in support. I really wanted to video it so it could be shared with those people that we were applauding.”
The request was a big success, with families taking the time to make signs that paid tribute to workers in Cayman and to their families working the frontlines abroad.
Jennifer Grant-McCarthy, in the Northwest Point area, was trying to find something that she and her kids could look forward to each day.
“I was so inspired by the singing in Italy, that when I saw the burgeoning ‘clapping for frontline workers’ initiative overseas, I knew that it was something Cayman could do,” she said. “I popped it on social media and contacted a few friends. The response was amazing.
Within a couple of days, Lynne Byles from Tower Marketing put her creativity behind it, created the group #caymanstrong and the (idea blossomed). There are over 1,300 members on that Facebook page and growing.”
Dancing on balconies
Chris Bailey, known for his charity work when he is not running long distances, has been testing out his DJ skills each night.
“At 7pm each night, all the neighbours at Solara and Cypress Pointe North gather [on their balconies] and gardens,” he said. “(At Solara) we clap for our frontline services, then the dance-off starts with me playing great tunes, followed by a response from Ian Lambert on the Cypress Pointe North side.
“We do this back and forth for around 45 minutes each night. Everyone dances, sings and generally has a great time with song requests coming in from all the neighbours.”
Blowing a conch shell horn is a traditional skill, and it is not as easy as it looks. It is a distinctive sound that inspires nostalgia in locals and fascination in tourists.
Gina Matthews, manager of public relations services for the Ministry of District Administration, Tourism and Transport, brainstormed with others over Zoom and came up with the idea of the Conch Call for Cayman campaign.
Every evening, at 6.59 p.m., the sound of conch shell horns being blown by Wray Banker and Deal Ebanks is transmitted over the airwaves by Radio Cayman, all DMS stations, Big Fish, Star 92.7 and Hurley’s Media.
“The Conch Call for Cayman campaign is designed to provide a much-needed boost to the country,” said Matthews. “It is intended that individuals and communities will also see it as a way to feel united at a time when social distancing has become the order of the day. The goal is to convey that we are all in this together.”
Front Fridays on Radio Cayman from 12.30pm to 1pm each week is also encouraging the community to call in with their stories of appreciation for frontline workers.
Outdoor art gallery
Drivers, cyclists, joggers and walkers who frequent the area of South Church Street near Smith Barcadere will already be familiar with the impromptu art gallery outside the home of ALT and Melissa Thompson.
The fence and main gates are decorated with a mixture of stuffed toys, pictures, Cayman flags and uplifting messages from locals and people around the world. Every week, more items are added, making the display an ever-evolving symbol of positivity.
The Thompsons’ 9-year-old daughter, Cori, was the one inspired to show the family’s support for Cayman and frontline workers in the islands and around the world.
She and her mother subsequently reached out to all the people they knew and asked them to send a beautiful message, drawing or inspirational picture to them. “We also asked them to sign whatever they sent and to say where it was from,” said Melissa.
What started with pictures of the world, the flags and the ‘We Love You Cayman’ signs, blossomed into a much bigger project as the emails began coming in with letters and images from friends and family.
There are notes from Alabama, Florida, Tennessee, and, of course, Cayman.
Melissa and Cori have been so happy with the feedback that they are glad they have the space available to display everything. “We’re extending from the gate along the fences,” Melissa said, after recently attaching another 35 posters. “It’s a great feeling.”