The 49th annual West Indian American day carnival brightened up Eastern Parkway on Monday, celebrating Caribbean heritage. Despite earlier incidents of violence at the pre-dawn parade just hours before, thousands packed the parade route in Crown Heights dancing and waving, even babies said one Flatbush dad.
“I enjoyed watching my daughter,” said Patrick Desir, who attended the parade with his eight-month-old daughter and wife. “She was dancing, laughing — bouncing up and down, and people were waving at her.”
Desir, who is of Haitian descent said he and his family mostly spent their time waving at people on the floats, and dabbled in the different foods. Other parade-goers stationed themselves at a single location to play music for an all-nighter, according to one DJ.
“The parade was great — I was there from midnight until the parade,” said DJ Yard-Z of Crown Heights, who set up a sound system on the parkway near Franklin Avenue to get passerby into a dancing spirit.
“I played lots of music — reggae music primarily. My job was to keep them dancing, keep them happy, and play reggae and soca.” The spinmaster, who is a dedicated participant, also said he enjoys the West Indian day parade for the community reunions it provides, as well as the revenue for local businesses.
“I like the fact that it was an opportunity to see musicians, see old friends, and make new friends,” said DJ Yard-Z. “It was very much a good party and a good opportunity for vendors to sell merchandise. Local vendors benefit from parade, as well as those vendors who sell on the parkway.”
The annual West Indian American Day Carnival started in 1964 as a smaller scale parade in Harlem. It came to Crown Heights in 1969 consistently growing over the years, eventually turning into one of the largest Caribbean parades in North America.
For next year’s festivities, Desir says he will be back with his family, but hopes to catch the more child-friendly event near the museum.
“Next year I’ll go earlier, and I’ll definitely take the kids to the parade.”