Stifling humidity and afternoon showers failed to dampen the electrifying spirits of revelers and spectators at the 46th Annual West Indian American Day Carnival Parade along Brooklyn’s Eastern Parkway.
Millions converged on one of the borough’s larger thoroughfares for the spectacle that is considered the largest in North America. A kaleidoscope of colors and a potpourri of Caribbean delicacies augmented the gaiety, as masqueraders and revelers gyrated to hypnotic soca, reggae and zouk music blaring from humongous speakers or disc jockeys mounted atop huge flatbed trucks.
In an election year, politicians, running for city and state offices, also joined the gigantic extravaganza, as they sought votes in the forthcoming Primaries.
Though the duration of the parade was much shorter than in previous years, revelers and masqueraders, with feathery and skimpy outfits, couldn’t withhold their delight in participating in what is described as the “Greatest Show on Earth.”
“I feel great!” exclaimed Diamond Kellman, 22, of Trinidadian parentage, portraying Antoine International’s “Purple Chaos.” “I’m happy to be here. I love it.”
Viola Hendrickson Chaka, a native of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, said she enlisted her daughter, Roslyn, and friend and compatriot, Monica Franklin, to play mas with Dingolay.
“I feel good,” said Viola, disclosing that she has been participating in the parade for the past 24 years. “I love it, I’m enjoying it, and I’ll continue to play until my knees give out.
“It’s my culture, and I‘m trying to enjoy my culture,” she added.
“This is great,” said Chinisa Nash, originally from St. John’s, Grenada, the same parish as Olympic gold medalist Kirmani James, portraying “Lady Bird” in Kaios International’s “Savage Paradise.” “I’ve been playing mas since a child.”
“Queen of Labor Day” Trinidadian Kay Mason portrayed “Celebration of Darkness to Light” in Barokeete, U.S.A.’s production.
“It’s my culture,” she said. “Every year, I look forward to celebrating our culture. It’s a break from the summer. I feel real good.”
The Grenadian Shortknee band, Val and Friends, couldn’t miss out on the revelry.
“This is good,” said reveler Valdon Springle. “I’ve been doing this for five years. I do this back home.”
Swaying in a red costume, portraying New Horizon’s “Jews of the Nile,” St. Lucian Marie Eugene, said the festival allows her to “feel free.”
“I love it,” she added.
First place winner for Male Individual, Michael Bates, of Trinidadian and U.S. parentage, said the Labor Day Carnival is “always fun.”
“It reminds me of the islands – respect and love for everybody,” said Bates in a Boston Soca and Associates’ portrayal.
80-year-old Neville Martin, a Laventille, Trinidad and Tobago-born designer with Natural Greeks, portraying “Underwater Kingdom,” said he has been playing mas since he was three years old and will continue doing so until his last breadth.
“It’s a very good celebration,” he said about the parade, hustling to organize the female masqueraders.
The Brooklyn-based West Indian American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA), organizers of the parade, named Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and popular Trinidadian DJ MC Wassy, whose real name is Christopher Bowen, as Grand Marshalls.
WIADCA said over 40 costumed bands and dozens of brightly-decorated floats participated in the parade along the 4 ½ mile-long route.
Pre-parade events started on Thursday at the Brooklyn Museum. The festivities included a Soca and Reggae Show, Panorama, Junior Carnival and Dimanche Gras show.
In addition to activities organized by WIADCA, there was a star-filled, three-day Caribbean Fever Irie Jamboree Music Festival at the Barclays Center, downtown Brooklyn.
A hot lineup of top-ranked creole, reggae, dancehall, soca, calypso and worldbeat music stars participated in the festival that ended on Sunday night.
The exuberant parade mood was preceded with speeches by politicians at the Pre-Parade Breakfast, at the Lincoln Terrace Court in Brooklyn, seeking state and city offices, in the forthcoming Primaries.
Many paid tribute to 16-month-old toddler, Antiq Hennis, shot dead in his stroller on Sunday night, casting a pall over the hazy day.
Police said on Monday that they have launched an all-out manhunt for the killer, who gunned down the innocent baby hours before the spectacular parade.
Police said they are also offering a US$12,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.