West Indian Day Parade features sights, sounds and flavors of Caribbean

September 10, 2015 Meaghan McGoldrick
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For the 48th year, Caribbean culture was on display as the West Indian American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA) presented its annual New York Caribbean Week, a five-day festival that culminated in the annual New York Caribbean Carnival Parade.

“We firmly believe in cultural diversity and partnership within people in the community,” said Anne-Rhea Smith, a spokesperson for WIADCA, of the collection of events, which kicked off on Thursday, September 3 and included costumes, concerts, contests and more. “It keeps us alive and growing and keeps us servicing the community at large, particularly the Caribbean American community.”

Highlights of this year’s festivities included food, music, a greater stage presentation and a first-annual Golden Krust Bakery Patty Eating Contest, presented by Borough President Eric Adams.

This year’s theme was “One Caribbean” and the week’s events drew crowds in the hundreds of thousands.

The main parade along Eastern Parkway on Labor Day, September 7, was peaceful; however, unfortunately, a celebration elected officials say should have been a met with peace was instead met with violence including a shooting that left one dead and one in critical condition in the early morning hours preceding the parade’s kick-off, when the J’Ouvert celebrations take place.

“The J’Ouvert celebrations, which are separate from the larger parade, have raised legitimate concerns about safety for participants and passersby alike,” said Adams in a statement.

The borough president noted that, while WIADCA has worked diligently in cooperation with the NYPD to keep Caribbean Week safe, more needs to be done by all parties – including those simply in attendance.

“Even with efforts that have been taken to make these marches and parties safer, we cannot tolerate a single person getting injured or worse,” he said. “The celebration of J’Ouvert is not inherently violent, so we must work to remove every violent element from this otherwise festive celebration of cultural pride.”

According to Adams, he and other relevant stakeholders will determine the best course of action for next year’s festivities which, despite run-ins with violence, have remained a favorite end-of-summer activity amongst many Brooklyn families.

This year’s parade grand marshals were Supreme Court Justice Sylvia Ash; Maxine Williams, director of diversity for Facebook; Kenneth Mapp, governor of the US Virgin Islands; and Earl Phillips, secretary and treasurer of TWU Local 100.

Additional reported contributed by Jaime DeJesus.

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