Barbados Festival Day is a hit in Canarsie
Crowds Gather to Celebrate the Caribbean Island’s Culture with Food and Games
Saturday marked the Friends of Barbados DLP Association’s 15th annual Barbados Festival Day at Monroe Cohen Park at 108th Street and Seaview Avenue in Canarsie. The day began with vendors lugging their merchandise through the park from early morning in preparation for the plethora of festivities that were planned from noon through 8 p.m.
Admission was free and the event brought out many local residents as well as families from as far away as Barbados. Busloads of attendees arrived from Toronto, Canada; Washington, D.C.; Hartford, Connecticut; Boston, Massachusetts; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Plainfield, New Jersey with their own Mayor Adrian Mapp (who was born and raised in Barbados) and his family.
Mapp congratulated festival founder Trevor Messiah, and praised the association for continuously hosting the event for the past 15 years.
Other dignitaries in attendance included Barbados Counsel General at N.Y. Donna Hunte-Cox; and Judge Sylvia Hinds-Radix and her husband Dr. Joseph Radix. Also in attendance was District 46 City Councilmember Alan Maisel, who addressed the energetic crowd, asking “Are there any Bajans [Barbadians] out here today? And, those of you who want to be Bajan today.” The lively crowd roared, waved flags, danced and cheered.
Sen. Roxanne Persaud, from the 59th District, said that it was nice to be there to help Barbadians celebrate festival day at such a well-attended and peaceful event. Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis, who is running for mayor, also mingled with the crowd and said that she was happy to be at the festival and hoped to get some votes on election day.
Games included Barbados staples such as the egg and spoon race, the three-legged race, the wheel barrow race and the sack race. Children enjoyed playing cricket, hop-scotch, jacks, kite flying, volleyball, tug of war and relay and sprint races. There was also a road tennis competition.
There were also various tables lined up with arts and crafts and items from Barbados that attendees could purchase.
The Newton Foundation held a fundraiser to benefit needy families in Barbados, Cape Town, South Africa and in New York, as well as other parts of the U.S.
Judy Newton, president of the foundation presented its Performance Award to Marcy Sobers-Bruney. Sobers-Burney received a check for $100 for her 11-year-old son Nathaniel Sobers, who was one of the singers at the event. Newton said, “I hope that this small gift will encourage Nathaniel to excel with his singing career because it is people like us adults who are able to uplift lives and help young adults through their endeavors.”
The Barbados Consulate at New York held an exhibit under a large white marquee and the Friends of Barbados DLP, Inc. manned a blue tent where members volunteered and sold T-shirts.
The crowd of approximately 12,000 danced to the music of Lou (Zorro) Drayton of the Drayton’s Two, one of Barbados’ premier cultural groups, and a popular duo throughout the Caribbean and Barbados Soca entertainer General D. Additional music was provided by Technic Music Mix.
“Saturday was a day to enjoy lovely weather, meet old friends and have a good time,” David Jordan, a longtime Canarsie resident, said. “This nostalgic festival reminds me of growing up in Barbados, the way life used to be, things like everyone having a good time. I have been coming here for the past six years with good fellowship and to see old comrades.”
Messiah reflected on how the festival has evolved throughout the years. “I remember there were only six vendors and 1,200 attendees on the inaugural year. Now it has grown to include people from all walks of life. I started this because I wanted to bring Barbadian culture to Brooklyn, things like its cuisine, kite flying, all the things that were synonymous to growing up in Barbados. I thought it would be a great culture for Brooklyn to experience.”