What can be called a mélange of vibrant colours, music and festivities, New York’s Caribbean street festival — also known as West Indian American Labour Day Parade— started on September 5, this year. The festivities, the highlight of which is a massive parade, celebrates and pays tribute to the cultural pride of the Caribbean region.
The participants in the five-day festivities represent various Caribbean nations showcasing a range of traditional and cultural displays that include steel band music, soca music and calypso. The carnival will also see spectators and vendors selling Caribbean food and beverages, arts and crafts, clothing, jewellery and other items.
Often, the revellers dress up as celebrities or political figures and throw powdered paint at each other, while steel drums and whistles provide the celebratory soundtrack. If the parade in itself does not seem grand enough, then there are pre-parade celebrations too, that mostly starts before the dawn of the festival and is called J’ouvert (daybreak in French).
The parade is organised by the West Indian American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA) and the concerts and events take place at the Brooklyn Museum, located at 200 Eastern Pkwy Brooklyn, NY 11238.
“Most unions have a large contingent of members who are from the Caribbean and who take their involvement seriously,” said West Indian American Day Carnival Association President William Howard to the New York Daily News.
This year, the grand marshals of the Caribbean carnival are City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito; Guyana Consul-General Barbara Atherly; Barbados U.N. Ambassador Keith (Tony) Marshall; and Conrad Ifill, president and CEO of Conrad’s Famous Bakery.