Life is a Carnival: West Indian Day Parade Celebrates Pride and Diversity

It was a warm and beautiful day to show off Caribbean pride in the streets of Brooklyn. For the 51st year, Brooklyn played host to the New York Caribbean Carnival Parade. Held on Labor Day Monday, Sept. 4, and hosted by the West Indian American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA), the event drew an impressive crowd of attendees dressed in festive and colorful attire that honored the culture.

All day, Eastern Parkway between Schenectady Avenue and Grand Army Plaza bustled with activity. The parade, which began around 11 a.m. and ended by 6 p. m., was a culmination of WIADCA’s New York Caribbean Carnival Week that included concerts, dance and Saturday’s Junior Carnival Parade for the children.

Elected officials and community leaders attending the parade included Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, Public Advocate Letitia James, Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, City Councilmember Jumaane Williams and Al Sharpton, founder and president of the National Action Network.

Cuomo took the opportunity to announce that the state would contribute $15 million toward the building of a community center in memory of his former aide Carey Gabay, who was killed by stray gunfire during J’Ouvert in 2015.

Security was tight but that did not stop revelers from coming from all corners of the world to celebrate Caribbean culture. There were visitors from China, England and France, and although the parade originated with immigrants from Trinidad, there were attendees from across the Caribbean.

“I come here every year to represent my country, my heritage,” Donna Edwards told this paper. “I’m originally from England but my parents are from Jamaica, so of course I’m Jamaican too and proud to come here and celebrate my heritage.”

Dandan Cheng, a teacher who emigrated from China five years ago, enjoyed the festivities. “Everything feels very new to me,” said Cheng. “I heard about this Caribbean festival so I wanted to attend a cultural event and learn more about Caribbean customs. I love this parade!”

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