Friends of Crown Heights jump for education

Revelers with Friends of Crown Heights jump for education.
Photo by Nelson A. King

For the third successive year, masqueraders and revelers with the Friends of Crown Heights Educational Centers in Brooklyn jumped for education, underscoring the theme of the band as it participated in the 52nd West Indian American Day Carnival Parade on Brooklyn’s Eastern Parkway.

Donning T-shirts emblazoned with the theme “Jump for Education,” masqueraders, primarily Vincentians, ensured that they were part and parcel of the grand extravaganza, even as heavy thundershowers poured down on the parade.

“I was here last year and the year before,” said Phillmore Lowe, posing with Odinga Dublin. “It’s a good thing to promote Vincy culture.

“We’re one of the leading countries when it comes to carnival in the Caribbean, he added, jumping to Timba’s “Mind Yo Funky Business” blaring from huge speakers mounted atop a flatbed truck.

Brooklyn residents Betty Trent and Carlita Jack jumped nearby.

“I’m enjoying it,” Trent shouted. “I’m jumping for education.”

Jack said: “I feel great.”

Aspiring recording artiste Chake Bess, who carries the sobriquet “Urbalist”, posed with 5-year-old Hunter Nanton.

“I look forward to this moment every year as a proud West Indian,” Bess said. “The rain this morning – God just showed us how much he blessed us.”

Shamara Smith, who designed her own costume, played with her sister-in-law Alredaa Charway, of Ghana.

“It’s fun,” said Smith, participating in the parade for the second successive year. “Only one life to live – you have to enjoy every moment.”

Ava George, a long-standing employee with New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), played with Carmen McMillan.

“I’m feeling great with me ‘famalaylay’,” said George, stressing “family” for greater emphasis.

McMillan said she, too, was “feeling great and having a lot of fun.”

Brothers Earlande “Cappy” Lewis and Keith Lewis said they could not miss the parade for anything in the world.

“For the last three years, it was fun,” Keith said. “The Vincy Band is good. Friends of Crown Heights Band is the Vincy Band. There’s no other band.”

Actually, there’s another Vincy band, Mas Productions Unlimited. But it only participates in the Junior Carnival, which took place on Saturday, portraying “Sanctuary: A Habitat for Birds.”

“Living creatures and their conservation and preservation should be a matter of concern and interest,” said veteran band leader Wesley Millington.

He said the three-section band comprised: Fire Bird, Bird of Paradise and Golden Eagle.

“Our aim is to introduce the next generation of masqueraders to carnival,” Millington said. “Thus, we try to encourage the kids to have fun and enjoy the festival.”

He said the aim of Mas Productions Unlimited — founded by the late, veteran Vincentian mas man Neusam “Sam” DeBique in 1992 – is geared towards “maintaining a Vincentian presence in Brooklyn Carnival and promoting Vincentian culture in general.”

As he played with Friends of Crown Heights on Labor Day, Terrance “Terry” Edwards said the band was “out early” and that “the rain purged” the parade.

But despite the treacherous weather, he said “everybody was enjoying” the carnival parade.

Further down the parade route, Patrick Gill hoisted a large Vincentian flag.

“I do this every year for the past 25 years,” he said. “I feel good, great. I enjoy doing this.”

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