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A Call For Unity at the West Indian Day Parade

4 Sep


     Once you turned any corner on Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn this past Labor Day, you were hit with the scent of spicy foods, jerk chicken, roti and lots of other delicious foods. Kiosks were set up with vendors selling foods, flags, and fruits all along the Parkway. It’s a marvelous sight seen only once a year when people of all the West Indie nations come out to celebrate with lots of music, dance, amazing costumes and lots of representation of the culture. This the city’s largest parade and with over 2 million revelers and marchers expected on the parade route, it’s truly an experience to be had at least once in your lifetime. The crowd was starting to get thicker around noon just at the start of the parade when the NYPD Band broke out the steel drums and  got the huge party started. You just knew this was going to be a special day when none other than the King of Calypso, Harry Belafonte, the parade Grand Marshall saluted the crowd as he made his way to meet Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Local politicians greeted the crowd and most the times it’s not really that interesting but one particular display stood out. A banner designed by Yves Rene with all the flags of the Caribbean nations and the motherland flag of Africa in the center called for unity among the various nations. In unity there is strength and hopefully that message thrives and might spark more interest in a fresh movement to bring all the people of the Caribbean together.  But for now the party was just getting started and after the politicos passed on by the fun really started when a group from Dominica marched up in costume followed by a lively marching band.

     The first of many tractor trailers filled with monster speakers and deejays was from 2K12 The Rebirth with lots of masqueraders and a large crowd following. They got the crowd worked up and ready to dance. Some folks jumped over the iron guard railing to join in the fun and dance to their favorite songs. If you have been to this parade before, it is truly one of the most unique parades in NYC. Other than amazing costumes and great music, it’s the only parade where you can hop over the fence and dance with one group until the end of the parade route then hop on a train and go back to Utica Ave. where the parade starts and do it all over again. Only in NY…only in Brooklyn.  This year the spacing of the monster trucks was good enough so the music did not drown out the others. Kaios International Mas had a nice representation of masqueraders but the Phoenix Boomstation had their people dancing wildly. Not to be outdone was Ramajay Mas but the show stealers were the stilt walkers and incredible dancers from Dugolay visiting from Massachusetts. They tore it up. As the dancers and masqueraders made their way to the reviewing stand by the Brooklyn Museum and show their dance moves to the judges, most of the crowd took in the festivities with great pride and love for thier country. One group that really shook up the crowd were the NYC Freaks and they did live up to their name. Crowd control is always an issues especially when about 2 million people are having a great time. Props definitely go out to the NYPD for responding quickly whenever there were any disturbances.  To close out the celebration were some of the more elaborate costumes I have ever seen. It must have taken months to get the costumes ready. And one quick note, the Haitian Digitel truck was late again and didn’t make it down the parade route and had to turn off on Bedford Ave. as the sanitation trucks beat them to the spot. A little earlier next time guys. They have one of the best trucks and the best music in the parade and lots of people didn’t  get to see them this year. But from what the crowd did get to see, it was up to this point the best parade of the city this year.

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