June’s in bloom with graduates, Caribbean activities

Chef Andre Fowles at a recent Jamaican Tourism reception in New York City.
Photo by Tangerine Clarke

If you discounted Spring’s mantra of ‘April showers May flowers’ better get ready for June’s blooming calendar of activities. The 30-day period packs a hefty load of significant activities to celebrate, commemorate and at the very least participate.

This month, brides and grooms are in vogue with wedding planners scurrying to stage the most picture-perfect, memorable event.

Students of varying ages who have accomplished the required curriculum to graduate are also praising the month’s arrival while basking in optimism of the future.

Most endearing to immigrants from the Caribbean diaspora — a weeklong calendar of events designed to engage dialogue and participation with the Caribbean Tourism Organization began June 1 and will end five days later. While most discussions and forum are headquartered at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in midtown, numerous activities are slated throughout Manhattan. Caribbean Rocks conclude the nighttime fetes with an anniversary concert marking Tempo TVs 10th anniversary. BB Kings Restaurant in Times Square will host that event. However, some countries will specialize by focusing on events destined to lure visitors to particular islands.

Jamaica will host food and fitness events. According to representatives from the island’s tourist board “whether you are a fitness buff, music lover or foodie, Jamaica has a variety of events, from reggae-themed spin classes to celebrity chef cooking demonstrations from Jamaica’s two-time ‘Chopped’ champion, Chef Andre Fowles.”

On day one, a dancehall / reggae-themed spin class kicked off a program at Revolve, 52 East 13th St. The intent is to help fitness fans kick-start their summer beach bodies with a special reggae / dancehall-themed indoor cycling class at Revolve studio in Union Square. The event will again be presented on Friday, June 3.

Riders will receive special Jamaica-branded merchandise.

On that same day, Chef Demo with Jamaican ‘Chopped’ Champion Chef Andre Fowles offers two hours of free cooking tips at Bloomingdale’s Department store at 59th Street.

Joined by renowned chefs from the Caribbean, he will present tips on how to prepare authentic Jamaican dishes for foodies to taste and learn how to cook.

Later in the month on June 18 from noon to 7 pm, “Rum & Rhythm Benefit and Auction – The Ultimate Caribbean Epicurean Experience” repeats the Caribbean Week event slated for Capital at 130 Bowery.

“Consumers can embark on a culinary journey through the Caribbean as they experience the culinary and spirits offerings from top Caribbean celebrity chefs, including two-time Jamaican ‘Chopped’ Champion Chef Andre of Miss Lily’s restaurant in NYC who will prepare authentic Jamaican dishes and cocktails, while enjoying live entertainment and the spirits of Caribbean destinations.”

The island will also sponsor an awards luncheon on June 2. “Honoring Industry Leaders and Top Caribbean Stories” focuses on paying tribute to individuals whose routine function has enhanced the region’s tourism industry. There a Lifetime achievement Award will be presented to an industry contributor.

For detailed information, visit www.onecaribbean.org.


BRAATA organizers are claiming the only authentic Caribbean folk festival in New York. Free and slated for June 18 at Keith Williams Park – formerly Liberty Park – at 106-16 173rd St. in Jamaica, Queens the festival celebrates folk traditions of different Caribbean nations complete with cultural displays, vendors, games and cultural concert. Other attractions include basket weaving, JJ the Clown and a drumming circle.

Performance by Michael Sean Harris, face painting and a food pavilion are highlights to the daylong presentation. Presented in conjunction with the St. Lucia Cultural Organization, Charley’s Roots and Braata Folk Singers this family friendly affair is probably unrivaled in providing alluring folk festivities.


How cool is this? As a parting gift from the City College of New York, graduates will hear a commencement message from Michelle Obama, the first Black first lady of the United States. It will be the last class to even be so honored for many years to come. The First Lady will deliver the commencement address during the 170th commencement ceremony at CCNY on the campus in historic Harlem.

More than 3,000 students make up the Class of 2016.

“The City College of New York was the first public higher education institution in NYC and has one of the most diverse student bodies in the nation with over 40 percent first-generation college students, almost 40 percent non-native English speakers, and half from low-income households. Established as a free institution dedicated to overcoming barriers to advancement, CCNY continues its mission of access to excellence and keeping tuition affordable,” a White House press release said.

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