Can you believe it? It’s carnival time again! This year, the 44th West Indian American Day Carnival Parade celebrates with the unifying theme “One Caribbean Family.” The big show gets underway on Monday, Sept. 5 on Brooklyn’s Eastern Parkway in Flatbush, beginning promptly at noon and ending promptly at 6 p.m.
According to the organizers, the West Indian American Day Carnival Association WIADCA), it promises to be the “biggest ever…with an expected turnout of several million spectators from around the world.” With them comes some much-needed revenue to New York City.
Among the VIPs to lead this year’s parade are the following grand marshals: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo; Winston “Gypsy” Peters, minister of arts and multiculturalism in Trinidad & Tobago; Michael Mulgrew, president of the UFT; Frank Sanchez, vice chancellor of CUNY; Georgina Ngozi, president of the Brooklyn Children’s Museum; and Brigadier General Renwick L. Payne, director of Joint Forces Headquarters, New York.
Included in this impressive list are two sons of the Caribbean: Peters and Payne.
The honorary grand marshal of the parade is New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.
Special honored guests at the parade include Michael L. Blake, national deputy director for Project Vote; Commissioner Terrence Holiday, colonel in the U.S. Air Force (Ret); Rep. Charles Schumer; NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly; and others.
Acknowledged around the world as New York’s Labor Day Carnival, the exciting Carnival Monday is the culmination of four days of Caribbean arts and culture at the Brooklyn Museum.
Yolanda Lezama-Clark, president of the WIADCA, disclosed that an unprecedented number of bands have registered to participate in this year’s parade and public interest is at an all-time high. “The magnificent artistry of the costumes, record number of participating bands and large number of soca artists and superstars scheduled to perform, coupled with this unmatched level of interest, suggests that the 2011 carnival will be one of our best and biggest years,” she said in a statement.
Earlier this month, at the annual event kickoff at Gracie Mansion hosted by Bloomberg, Lezama-Clark thanked some of the corporate sponsors for their continued support, especially in this time of belt-tightening all around. Companies like Con Edison, Moet Hennessy, American Airlines, Healthfirst, Bacardi USA, SUNY Downstate, UFT and others were all recognized, and Lezama-Clark said, “Without their generous support, WIADCA’s continued success would be impossible.”
The carnival is a festival of Caribbean/West Indian culture that attracts viewers from across the United States and the world. This year’s theme, “One Caribbean Family,” embodies the unifying power of this Caribbean festival, as its pageantry of music, art and dance creates a synergy that showcases the various nationalities and cultures that make up the community.
Directly following the grand marshals and scores of VIPs, more than 60 decorative floats and 40 costume bands will wind their way down to the Brooklyn Museum past millions of excited spectators jammed onto Eastern Parkway.
The lively revelers dance and fte to the constant flow of colorful masquerade bands, which depict various aspects of the Caribbean culture. Some represent spectacular creations that span every facet of the real as well as the imaginary world, while others don costumes that leave nothing to the imagination.
Each band comprises huge flatbed trucks piled high with music systems accompanied by some of the top Caribbean artists and thousands of bedecked performers in extravagant costumes, gyrating to loud, tantalizing rhythms of soca, calypso and reggae music.
WIADCA is one of the oldest Caribbean-American organizations in the United States. It was established in 1967 to promote, present and produce Caribbean music, art and culture.
The West Indian Carnival first began in Harlem in the late 1920s. Grand carnival costume parties in places like the Savoy, Renaissance and Audubon ballrooms were organized by a Trinidadian woman named Jessie Waddle, who, along with a group of her friends, is credited with securing the first permit for a street parade in the mid-1940s on Lenox Avenue in Harlem.
As the Caribbean community shifted to Brooklyn in the 1960s, so did carnival in 1965. Today, carnival is not only a time of revelry and cultural celebration, it is an economic stimulus and tourist attraction that filters over $300 million into New York State, city and business coffers.
For further information, please call (718) 467-1797.