One of the most popular New York City extravaganzas of Labor Day weekend is the Caribbean Carnival and Parade, sometimes referred to as the West Indian American Day Carnival Parade. Nearly 2 million spectators are expected this year. After all, who doesn't want to spend a holiday weekend watching brilliantly costumed dancers step down Eastern Parkway, listening to calypso and reggae and sampling roti and ackee fish?
Here's everything you could possibly want to know to join or partake in all or part of the 48th edition of the festival and the parade, which is the culmination of an entire weekend of festivities.
The parade's scheduled start was 11 a.m. Monday in Brooklyn, at Eastern Parkway and Schenectady Avenue, AM New York reported. It travels along Eastern Parkway before ending roughly at 6 p.m. at Grand Army Plaza, by Prospect Park.
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The grand marshals planned for this year were Maxine Williams, Facebook's global director of diversity; Kenneth Mapp, the Brooklyn-born governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands; and Earl Phillips, secretary-treasurer of Transport Workers Union Local 100, according to the West Indian American Day Carnival Association. This year, for the first time, there also will be junior grand marshals for a junior parade: Kamira Medford, Emma Marajdeen, Shenarly Sealy and Conner Bedeau.
In its earliest renditions, the parade included Trinidadian immigrants, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported, but today it includes participants from Jamaica, Haiti and elsewhere in the Caribbean.
The festival began Friday morning with a concert. The rest of the weekend features a variety of concerts and other parades, as well as the first-ever National Jamaican Patty Eating Contest. At 9 a.m. Saturday the junior parade was scheduled to begin, led by the junior marshals. At 8 p.m. Saturday, the Steelband Panorama showcase was scheduled to begin, featuring steel pan music. The eating contest was scheduled for Sunday at 6 p.m. For full details including tickets and locations, visit the official carnival website.
The festival is not all fun and games, however. Local vendors count on it as an economic boon. "It is a known fact that NYC and the borough of Brooklyn sees an increase in tourism, commerce and visibility while many local businesses and vendors have the opportunity to participate at New York Caribbean Carnival Week by vending, advertising and showcasing their products, services," Thomas Bailey, president of the West Indian American Day Carnival Association, told the Jamaica Observer.