Tens of thousands of Brooklynites and attendees from all over came out for some festive fun in the September sun as the West Indian American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA) presented its 49th annual New York Caribbean Carnival Parade, also known as the West Indian Day Parade, as part of the New York Caribbean Carnival Week (NYCCW) on Monday, September 5.
“It means a lot,” said Rhea Smith, WIADCA marketing and media committee member, of the parade. “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.”
Beginning on Eastern Parkway at Utica Avenue at 11 a.m. this year, with marchers heading toward Grand Army Plaza, the all-day event saw beautifully ornate costumes, exciting performances and a slew of local and international elected officials.
This year’s parade grand marshals were 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.
Despite added security measures and an increased police presence, with the NYPD more than doubling the number of officers in the area (from 1,700 to over 3,400), as well as significantly upping the number of light towers (from 40 to 250), violence once again marred the early morning J’Ouvert celebration – the pre-parade festivities. Shots rang out at three locations along the route, beginning at 3:49 a.m., causing chaos and leaving two people dead and four others injured.
Last year, four people were wounded and Carey Gabay, first deputy council for Governor Andrew Cuomo, was shot dead by a stray bullet.