Inaugural Vincy Day in Brooklyn a success

Members of the organizing group, "Cool and the Gang", from left, front row: Brianna Lowman, Vilard "Mr. Cool" Samuel and Evard Lewis; back row: Rodger Mulzac, Donald Jarvis, Francelia Durrant, Lenford Mornix and Bennett Straker.
Photo by Nelson A. King

Organizers have described as very successful the inaugural Vincy Day in Brooklyn.

Hundreds turned out on Sunday, at Seaview Park in Canarsie, Brooklyn, for the inaugural event that was hampered, almost at picnic’s end, by torrential downpours from Tropical Storm Henri.

“I love it,” Chairman Vilard “Mr. Cool” Samuel, told Caribbean Life adjacent to a tent, under which popular Vincentian DJ Supa Eyes blasted Caribbean vibes, flanked by members of his organizing group, dubbed “Cool and the Gang,”

“The original group, Vincy Day USA, was not doing anything,” he added. “So, we decided to come out and do our thing. It’s just to have fun.

“It’s a different community,” continued Samuel, contrasting his group’s event with the massive Vincy Day USA, Inc.’s annual picnic that takes place at the 1,657-acre Heckscher State Park on the shore of the Great South Bay in East Islip, Suffolk County, Long Is.

The annual Vincy Day USA, Inc.’s picnic was suspended for the last two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Everything is free,” Samuel said. “We’re having fun. We’re celebrating life. We’re not charging anybody anything.

Vincy Soca artiste Edson “Lively” Mc Donald performs “We Drinking” at inaugural Vincy Day in Brooklyn. Photo by Nelson A. King

“It’s the biggest crowd we’ve had,” he added, stating that, before his group decided to brand the event “Vincy Day in Brooklyn”, he and a group of friends, primarily from East 95th Street in Brooklyn, picnicked at Seaview Park on weekends.

“We’re here all the time, and it’s easy access,” Samuel continued. “Long Island (Heckscher State Park) is an hour away.”

He said that, once COVID-19 abates, and the situation returns to normal, his group will adjust its picnic date to avert any potential conflict with the grand Vincy Day USA, Inc.’s picnic in Long Island. The latter usually takes place on the third Saturday in August.

“We’ll have Vincy Day in Brooklyn next year, but not on that particular day,” Samuel said.

“We’re not fighting with anybody; we’re just having fun,” he stressed.

Desmond Lewis (left) poses with his son, Jabari Lewis, at the Vincy picnic.Photo by Nelson A. King

Carlton “Callo” Clarke, a member of “Cool and the Gang”, who lives in Brooklyn, said he was very pleased with the attendance at the inaugural event.

“Everything is good so far,” he said. “It’s one love.”

Bennett Straker, another member of the group and an entertainment promoter in Brooklyn, said he was blown away by the turn-out.

“This is the first time, and it’s a success,” he said. “Look at the amount of people here. A lot of people are asking why we have to go to Long Island, and look at the crowd here.”

Soca artist Edson “Lively” McDonald had the crowd gyrating to some of his hits, including “Old Bottle”, “Tek Dat”, “We Drinking” and “Big Thing”.

“For a short notice and the first-time event, it’s a great turn-out; very good,” he told Caribbean Life afterwards. “Everybody just came together.”

Vincy community activist Laverne Williams front and center of the action. Photo by Nelson A. King

Community activist Laverne Williams said that, in light of COVID-19, the picnic was most welcome.

“It’s good,” said the executive member of the Brooklyn-based Vincy Liberators, Inc., hanging out with friends, including Grenadian Claus Grant. “After COVID held us down, we still have a little camaraderie.

“They could have it (picnic) twice,” she added. “Have one in Brooklyn in July then the real thing in Long Island – Heckscher State Park – in August.”

In lieu of the annual, massive Vincy Day USA, Inc. picnic, Chairman Raymond O. Lewis said his group held a “Food Sale BBQ” on Saturday to help defray the cost of the annual extravaganza.

“There wasn’t a heavy presence of patrons, but we had a fairly decent flow of patrons purchasing meals and leaving,” the told Caribbean Life about the event, which took place at Friends of Crown Heights Educational Center on Logan Street in Brooklyn. “For those who remained, they were thoroughly entertained by our DJ M1, who kept the music flowing with a wonderful set of sweet Vincy songs, past and present.

“As it was the first time that we gathered in that capacity, because of the pandemic, there was a moment of silence for persons who passed on over the last 18 months or so,” Lewis added.

Vincy community activist, Laverne Williams with Grenadian Claus Grant (left) and Vincentian Anthony Maloney. Photo by Nelson A. King

“Naturally, we can’t recollect everyone, but special mention was made for Junior “Soca” Jones, past vice chair and founding member of Vincy Day USA, Inc; the legendary (calypsonian) Winston Soso, who was always available to perform at Vincy Day without hesitation; and Ferrand ‘Randy D’ Dopwell (air personality), who served as an MC at Vincy Day on many occasions,” he continued.

At the same time, Lewis took issue with the use of the words “Vincy Day” in the promotion of another Vincentian picnic in Brooklyn.

“First off, Vincy Day Family Fun Day is an undertaking that is done by the Vincy Day USA Committee, Inc.,” he said. “We are not opposed to anyone having a gathering or such, but using the term ‘Vincy Day’ is very misleading, because it gives the impression that the committee is putting on the family fun day and not informing the general public.”

Vincy DJ Supa Eyes jams Caribbean vibes under a tent. Photo by Nelson A. King

Lewis said there are a number of factors that go into having the family fun day, most significant of which is the cost.

He said it costs over $40, 000.00 to host the event in Long Island, stating that fundraisers are held to defray expenses, which includes park permits, stage, dumpsters, clean-up crew, park police, insurance, medical personnel on stand-by, security and portable toilets.

“We also have a responsibility to our sponsors to be good corporate citizens, because it’s been pretty difficult over the past couple of years for many businesses to generate income, much less to have disposable income for sponsorship,” Lewis said. “And seeing that most of the community organizations draw from the same sponsors, we have to be diligent and find creative ways in which to raise funds for the event.”

Nonetheless, he said Saturday’s fundraiser was “successful, despite the circumstances.

“Sure, we would have loved to have a venue full to capacity,” Lewis said. “But we are, nonetheless, grateful to those who came out, supported, stayed and had fun dancing in the rain, releasing the stresses of life and just having a grand time.”

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