Meet the Chief Executive Swashbuckler of Cayman Islands' Pirate Week

Melanie McFieldZach Stovall

At Pirates Week, you will experience sword fights, feasts, and fireworks, “but no pillaging,” says Melanie McField with a smile. “This is a wholesome, family friendly event.” The Cayman Islands’ national festival takes place November 12-22, 2015, and McField serves as its executive director, overseeing 40-plus events including a 5K run, float parade, underwater treasure hunt and steel drum competition between local schools. Notes McField: “The whole point is to show people what the Cayman Islands have to offer – the things that make us who we are.”

Pirates Week and I were born the same year: 1977. We're both 38.

We attract over 35,000 people during the 11 days of festivities. This isn't just on Grand Cayman. It extends across Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, too.

There are people from the Cayman Islands who attend the festival who are pirates all year long. They do events every weekend: pirate raids at hotels, at bars, you name it.

Each island has its own unique character. Cayman Brac is for the adventurous type. There's great hiking on beautiful nature trails and world-class diving. Little Cayman is relaxed and tranquil. There are just under 200 people on the island, and that's when it's fully packed. Grand Cayman is metropolitan and diverse – we have over 130 nationalities here.

On the first Friday night we have our fireworks display. The streets are lined with thousands of people – so thick you can't walk through it. To see the faces of the kids when the fireworks go off; they're in awe and so excited. As the mom of a six year old, that's a moment all the parents look forward to.

A huge part of the festivities is our pirate invasion. Two ships filled with pirates. There are cannons, explosions, sword fights, and a reenactment of the governor getting kidnapped. It all happens on Harbour Drive so everyone can see.

At the end of the festival the governor gets released and the pirates are kicked off the island.

Caymankindness stems from our ancestors, and they didn't have it easy. Shipping and rope making were among our first industries, and that was hard, hard work. They worked extremely hard to get Cayman where it is today. As a result, they had an appreciation for the little things, and that has continued on through the generations.

Caymankind isn't a choice – it's a way of life.