Tag Archives: carnival

Colorful Display of Caribbean Culture at the West Indian Day Parade

5 Sep
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It’s Carnival Time

     For the past 50 years, Labor Day on Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn turns into a huge festival and display of Caribbean pride, culture, costumes and contribution to the fabric of NYC. The nice weather allowed close to 2 million revelers to come out and join in the fun. This is one the largest and longest parades of the year so far. As soon as you make your way onto Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights, the aroma of cooking up some jerk chicken or curried goat or fried fish with rice and peas guides you to some of the hundreds of kiosks preparing some delicious Caribbean meals. The event had it’s history in the 1930s when the pre-Lenten celebrations were held indoors in venues in Harlem. But due to the nature of its celebration, the event had to be held outdoors and eventually made its way to Eastern Parkway. Event organizers, WIADCA, always but on a grand display.  Things got under way early. By 11 AM,  the first of many floats started things off with the NYPD brass band playing some inspired beats to get the crowd ready for  fun-filled day. The parade always draws its share of politicians. Starting off the political show was NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo with Rev. Al Sharpton at his side. This being a mayoral election year, there were many candidates pounding the pavement and asking for votes. Leading the way was current incumbent, Mayor Bill DeBlasio with his wife Charlene.  They were warmly received. It took well over an hour for the politicians to work the crowd but once they were gone, the fun began.  There weren’t as many activists with messages of awareness as in previous years. One group that did stand out was the Mas in Fashion, raising awareness of the evil of human trafficking.

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Fashion March Against Human Trafficking

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New Wave Mas Working the Crowd

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Carnival Time in the City

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Birds of a Feather….

 

     The first of several music and costumed floats to make their way down the 2 mile parade route was the New Wave Mas float in their whitewash theme. A large group that made their way down from Massachusetts was the Bajan Paradise float and their sexy masqueraders. They really got the crowd worked up with their version of Vitamin Water. All the masqueraders and music trucks with their massive sound systems make their way to the judges panel just past Washington St. and the Brooklyn Museum. One group having lots of fun with the judges was the Antwine International Group. Then a huge display of color broke out with some amazing presentations for the judges to score. One large group with lots of colorful and energetic costumers were the Stronjeh Float. But not to be outdone, Ramajay Mas always has the best masqueraders and themes. This years theme was Opulence and it really showed in the costumes and floats. This is one of the only parades where you can march and dance with your favorite group until the end of the parade route, hop on a subway for a few stops and start it all over again. One of the best things to see is when the MC of the trucks asks everyone to raise their flags while blasting their favorite tunes. For that moment, all people of the Caribbean nations unite in celebration and what a wild one it was.

 

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Raise Ya Flags!!

Black and White Queen Shines at the West Indian Day Parade

4 Sep
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Queen of the Parade

 The excitement was building up early on Eastern Parkway in anticipation of the 46th annual West Indian Day Parade. Soggy weather didn’t dampen any of the festivities of the Labor Day tradition. As soon as you made it to Eastern Parkway the smell of spicy foods, jerk chicken, wood and charcoal burning, loud soca, reggae and calypso music and marchers dressed in costume let everyone know this was to be a fantastic day of celebration.  Brooklyn is home to the most diverse and largest population of West Indians in the city and the roughly two million strong came out to party and dance to their favorite songs. The West Indian Labor Day Parade is unlike any other in the city.  The parade starts around Schenactady Ave. and Eastern Parkway; if you hear a truck playing your favorite song you can hop over the railing and join the group and dance all the way to Grand Army Plaza…hop an a train and ride a few stops to the start of the parade and do it all over again.  Of course you can always walk back and stop at the many kiosks for some delicious Caribbean food. Close to noon came the distant sound of the NYPD steel drum band to let everyone know the parade was kicking off.

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Bill DeBlasio working the crowd

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Masqueraders having fun

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Indians at play

     This being an election year and the election primary just a week away, all the political hopefuls were out in full force to make their presence known. All the politicians were out shaking hands and mixing it up with crowd even though Weiner mostly stayed on his float…guess he was too busy texting to come down and greet the crowd. Front runner Bill DeBlasio had the largest supporters of any mayoral hopeful with Quinn and Thompson close behind..quite similar to the recent polls.  All in all it was about an hour of politicians schmoozing it up and making one last appeal to the Caribbean community. Then the fun really started with the first of many trucks loaded with monster speakers played the crowds favorite songs with the mc leading the way for that group. Lots of masqueraders in their colorful costumes with feathers and little else on danced their way down the parade route. The first major group were the Savage Paradise group with lots of costumes representing the diverse culture. Not far behind them was the Ramajay Mas group that really got the crowd worked up with their music and sexy dancing. They had one of the best presentations with their Then and Now theme dance. I am sure they scored high points with the judges. Soon after them came the highlight of the parade with the breathtaking costume of this year’s Queen winner, the black and white Queen.  She was amazing to watch. Nothing after that matched the detail and glamorous style of the Queen. Another group that was fun to watch were the TNT Boys. The party just kept on going with truck after truck after truck blaring some good sounds for everyone to dance to from one side of Eastern Parkway to the other. Of all the parades I watched this year, this parade is by far the most fun I have had.  If you have a pulse, you will have fun.  Raise your flag!!!

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