Uniquely NYC
West Indian Carnival Parade
Tradition of the West Indian Carnival dates back to the 1920s, when immigrants from Caribbean Islands held their celebrations in private places in Harlem. The parade permit for Harlem was revoked in 1964 following a disturbance. Five years later it was re-established on Eastern Parkway of Brooklyn by what later became known as the West Indian-American Day Carnival Association.
The Carnival goes on for five days in September starting on the last Thursday before Labor Day. Its culmination and grand finale is the parade on Labor Day, which runs along Eastern Parkway from Utica Avenue to Grand Army Plaza. The parade is a spectacularly colorful affair where the most elaborate and creative costumes will strike your imagination. Each masquerade camp or "mas" tries to win a cash prize by introducing their theme. Some of the more exciting themes of past parades include: Tribute to Bob Marley, Jewels of the City, Seagate and Caribbeans Unite. The most coveted titles of the parade are the titles of king and queen. Naturally, their costumes are the most stunning.
Of course, the Carnival wouldn't have its tremendous appeal without the variety of traditional Caribbean music and food made available. Attendees can enjoy various types of Caribbean music such as calypso, which evolved out of traditional folk music of Trinidad and Tobago; soca, a contemporary offsoot of calypso; reggae; rap; and the steel band. Food vendors line up the Eastern Parkway with colorful displays of Caribbean food. Some of the traditional dishes found at the Carnival are: jerk chicken, butterfly shrimp kebabs, fish cakes, oxtail, meat patties and coconut bread. Anyone willing to get acquainted with Caribbean cuisine will find plenty of choices to indulge their curiosity.
The West Indian Carnival attracts a huge crowd of spectators ranging between one and three million each year. Its economic impact, popularity and success has inspired similar events in places like Miami and Boston.
wiadcacarnival.org www.bklynpubliclibrary.org/ourbrooklyn/carnival