One Caribbean, one people, one voice!
That is the theme as the West Indian American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA) gears up to host its 49th annual New York Caribbean Carnival Week (NYCCW). The five-day extravaganza includes a series of events that celebrate the culture with colorful costumes, diverse concerts, art, food and education forums for children. The activities conclude with the New York Caribbean Carnival Parade.
“We’ve come a long way in terms of diversity and inclusion and are looking forward to expanding partnerships with various programs for youth and seniors in particular,” said Rhea Smith, WIADCA marketing and media committee member. “It means a lot. Just as the Irish, Italian and Hispanics have their parade, the Caribbeans have theirs. There are lots of us not able to return to our homeland, so it’s great that we can show cultural pride.”
There are plenty of highlights for the hundreds of attendees; however, a few stand out. “The food is very high on the list, as are the costumes,” Smith said. “They are large, colorful and beautiful. The music is also a huge part of it.”
The week of activities, many of which take place on the Brooklyn Museum grounds, kick off on Thursday, September 1 with Reggae Unda Di Stars at 7 p.m., a collection of performances from roots, rhythm and reggae artists. Tickets are $60.
“We have a concert of artists from different islands performing,” Smith said. ”We are thrilled to have these reggae stars.”
On Friday, September 2, education is at the forefront with WIADCA’s Summer Jam: Stay in School Concert and College Fair. from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. “The day encourages youth to pursue future education, going to college and the importance of education,” Smith added about the free event. “It’s a post-summer fun event before school starts, which the kids really enjoy.”
A Brass Fest with several live bands will also begin at 7 p.m.
Children will rule the day on Saturday, September 3 for the Junior (kiddies) Carnival Parade.
“Children get their own day to march and lead just like adults do. The costumes are beautiful,” Smith said. “We are also ensuring that the youth understand and know their heritage and carry on the tradition.”
Sunday, September 4, the Dimanche Gras finale includes musical legends King David Rudder, Mighty Grynner, Natasha Wilson and Aaron Duncan. Tickets are $45.
The week long festivities conclude with the historic New York Caribbean Carnival Parade along Eastern Parkway on Monday, September 5. “We have had a very positive response and of course with every large parade, there’s always a level of concern for safety so we work close with the NYPD,” Smith said. “We have everything in place to ensure safety and make sure everyone has a good time celebrating Caribbean American culture. “
“We are delighted to have the support of all our returning partners along with some new ones for our 49th Annual New York Caribbean Carnival festivities,” added WIADCA President William Howard in a statement.
This year’s grand marshals are President and CEO of Conrad’s Bakery Conrad Ifill; New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito; the Honorable Barbara Atherly, consul general of Guyana; and His Excellency Keith H.L. “Tony” Marshall, UN Ambassador from Barbados.
“We are really looking forward to hosting notables, including elected officials, officials from other countries, celebrities, our youth and the community,” Smith added.
Others expected to be in attendance include Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Brooklyn DA Kenneth Thompson, and Borough President Eric Adams.
WIADCA will also feature three youth Junior Parade Grand Marshals.
“It should be a wonderful cultural extravaganza,” Smith said. “With the parade itself, we have over a million plus that participate and watch on TV and in various mediums. Most can’t go home to enjoy their own festival so this is what they look forward too.”
The parade starts at 11 a.m., on Eastern Parkway at Utica Avenue, with marchers heading toward Grand Army Plaza, and concludes at 6 p.m. For a full list of events, prices and locations, visit www.wiadcacarnival.org.