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Blog Home > Archive (November, 2017)
My first trip out to Stingray City was a huge day of firsts for me—first time on a boat in the ocean, first time petting a stingray, first time holding a starfish, and first time snorkeling. Even on a day full of amazing new experiences, getting to meet Winston, crew member extraordinaire, stands out as one of the highlights. 

The first thing that made me smile about Winston was his ability to guess my shoe size just by looking at my feet. He took a quick glance and then handed me a pair of snorkeling fins (which to my surprise weren’t called just "flippers") that fit on the first try. He laughed and said that people with “little heels and ankles” were by far the hardest people to fit. My shoe store trips would be significantly easier if I had Winston along! 

As the boat began to take off towards the Coral Gardens, we were quickly greeted by lots of cold, salty splashes of seawater. Most people squealed and shouted at being suddenly soaked, but Winston opened up his arms, closed his eyes, and smiled as the waves splashed him. “Ahh, you all should enjoy this now because you won’t get any of this on the ride back.” I, like my fellow passengers, was initially a little jarred by the splashes, but seeing Winston enjoy the waves and encourage us to enjoy the experience turned my attitude around. 

Since he seemed to have such a positive outlook on being at work, I asked Winston how long he’d been doing boat tours. He’s been working for Stingray City for about eight years. Winston worked in construction for several years after moving to Cayman from Jamaica for better opportunities for his family. I asked which he liked better and with a big smile he said he liked giving tours much better—he gets to be outdoors in a beautiful, laid back atmosphere, and gets to meet lots of people from all around the world. Of all the destinations on the boat tours, he said he enjoys Star Fish Point the most because of the fun but relaxing atmosphere and how much kids enjoy the spot. 

Once we arrived at Stingray City, Winston also served as our stingray ambassador. As a few stingrays began to swim by our group, one guest got a little freaked out by the rays being so close. She screamed, flailed, and even tried to escape back onto the boat, but Winston took the time to calm her down. He explained that there was nothing to be afraid of, and slowly guided her over to the stingray. After a few moments, she seemed to calm down a little, and by the time we were finished she even gave the ray a little kiss for luck! As Winston said, “You have to kiss the stingray—it’s seven years good luck!” 

All too soon it was time to get back on the boat and leave the stingrays behind, but as I asked Winston if I could give the ray a goodbye pet on the fin, he replied with his signature, “Of course!” Throughout the whole day, any request a guest had—Will you take a photo? Can you explain how starfish eat?—Winston always replied with a cheerful, “Of course!” His kindness and enthusiasm made an already incredible experience even more special. 

Whether it was manning the ship’s anchor, explaining how to use snorkel gear, or wrangling stingrays, Winston did everything with a genuine smile and generous spirit. Every time I think back on my big day of firsts, Winston’s smile is a big part of my memories. The first trip won’t be my last time hanging with stingrays for certain, and hopefully it won’t be my last time getting to visit with Winston. 
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If rifling through ornaments and early present shopping haven't gotten you in the Christmas spirit yet, check out this year's Christmas Spectacular concert! The Cayman National Orchestra and Choir will present the evening's festivities on December 10 at 7:30 PM at the Harquail Theatre. The concert will also feature performances from the Cayman Youth Choir, The Stingrays acapella vocal group, vocal soloist Mikayla Corin, and a special guest, tenor Rory Baugh from Jamaica. 

You can purchase Christmas Spectacular tickets online here—the cost is $25 for adults and $10 for children. 

Founded fifteen years ago by Sue Horrocks, the Cayman National Orchestra is comprised of forty musicians from all walks of life. Horrocks not only serves as Executive Director and a flutist for the orchestra but she’s also the Musical Director of the Cayman National Choir. 

 violinistsWith the choir celebrating its fortieth anniversary this year, the orchestra is a relative newcomer to the Cayman arts scene but is quickly growing in popularity and demand beyond its “hidden gem” reputation. Musicians gather once a week to rehearse for their upcoming appearances. Their performance calendar is expanding to include special events like “Sounds of the Sea,” an outdoor concert at the Grand Old House in honor of Pirates Week that featured songs with a nautical theme. Tunes from films like Pirates of the Caribbean and scores by John Williams were big crowd hits as guests enjoyed the performance with dinner by the sea.  

Conductor Jonathan TaylorThe orchestra is currently under the direction of conductor Jonathan Taylor, who is looking forward to “presenting so much wonderful and eclectic, high-quality music to entertain our audience” at the Christmas Spectacular. ”I know they're going to love it!” Taylor comes to the orchestra by way of the United Kingdom and has found a home on the island—he says Cayman is “such a rich community of amazing people and musical opportunity.” 

Christmas music lovers are sure to rejoice as the Christmas Spectacular setlist has a little something for everyone. Tunes will range from classic titles like “White Christmas,” “I’ll be Home For Christmas,” and “Carol of the Bells” to upbeat numbers like “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” songs made popular by Pentatonix, as well as Broadway favorites, a bit of jazz, a bit of pop, and even a Renaissance chart or two. It’s certain to be a lively evening of good cheer, toe tapping, and crowd-pleasing performances that will send folks home humming tunes for days to come. 

If you miss the Christmas Spectacular, you can catch the orchestra’s carol concerts at the George Town Elmslie Church on December 12 and 14. To keep up with the orchestra’s upcoming performance schedule, be sure to follow them on Facebook
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