The colors, pageantry and sound of Caribbean Carnival were fully on display last Thursday, as the West Indian American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA) launched its 50th anniversary celebration of Caribbean Carnival Week in New York.
Masqueraders from a number of mas camps, as well as carnival lovers, officials and area politicians, converged on the Brooklyn Children’s Museum for the grand celebration, held under the theme, “From a Dream to a Legacy.”
“It’s good that we got to the 50th anniversary,” costume-clad Trinidadian Kay Mason, described as the “Queen of Labor Day Carnival,” told Caribbean Life among the gaiety.
“I want to thank WIADCA for their organization over the years,” added Mason, who won WIADCA’s Carnival Queen nine times and was five times “Queen of the Bands” in Trinidad and Tobago Carnival.
“It’s a milestone to bring this culture together, so we can celebrate,” continued Mason, representing perennial West Indian American Day Carnival Parade’s Band the Year Champions Sesame Flyers, who was honored by WIADCA in April.
Other mas bands represented included Detailz Mas, Antoine International, Amezilia Costumes and Diamond Entertainment.
“This is my first year; and, so far, so good,” said Giselle Thomas, the Trinidadian designer of Amezilia Costumes. “It’s very interesting.”
Brooklyn Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, perhaps, spoke for the Caribbean community in New York, stating that it was “important that we stand with pride.”
Later, in her brief remarks, she led the audience to a chant of “Get out the Vote,” while calling for President Donald J. Trump’s ouster, with the refrain, “As soon as Possible.”
WIADCA’s president William Howard assured the effervescent crowd that “you’ll have a good time [during the Carnival Parade on Eastern Parkway.
“We’ll see you for Labor Day,” he said.
The 50th Annual New York Caribbean Carnival Week kicks off on Thursday, Aug. 31, with Reggae Unda Di Stars.
WIADCA said this “funky reggae party” features reggae ambassadors Cocoa Tea, Ghanian Dancehall Reggae artist, Stonebwoy, and Brooklyn’s own Afrobeat songstress, WUNMI, performing popular hits, such as She Loves Me Now, FYAH, My Name, Come from Far and Fit Body.
Stephen “Ragga” Marley is also expected to appear on Thursday, commemorating his father’s [Bob Marley] visit to the same Brooklyn stage, where Marley debuted “Uprising,” “and expressed enthusiasm and support for WIADCA’s efforts in bringing the community together by promoting diversity and tolerance through music and culture in NYC,” WIADCA said.
The annual Summer Jam: Stay In School Concert & Youth Fest will be featured on Friday, Sept. 1, along with the popular Brass Fest concert later that day, starring soca ambassadors D’All Stars Blaxx; 2017 Party Monarch King Ricardo Drue (Antigua; Teddyson John (St. Lucia); Lyrikal (Trinidad and Tobago); Farmer Nappy (Trinidad and Tobago); 2017 Road March King, Problem Child (St. Vincent and the Grenadines); Lavaman (Grenada); and 2017 Road March King MX Prime of Ultimate Rejects (Trinidad and Tobago).
Music for the Brass Fest will be furnished by DJ Sounds 4 Life, DJ Starboy Movements and DJ Spice.
The Junior Carnival and Panorama take place on Sat., Sept. 2.
Dimanche Gras finale takes place the next day, featuring The Calypso King of the World, The Mighty Sparrow; Queen Calypso Rose; King David Rudder; Swallow (Antigua); Ras Iley (Barbados); and Dane Gulston steel pan virtuoso, along with the King & Queen of the Bands costume presentations.
“We are blessed to have marked 50 years of Caribbean impact, culture, education, economic contribution, services and carnival in New York State,” Howard said. “This year, we celebrate our long-standing partners and welcome new ones that will help sustain this legacy for the next 50 years.
“We look forward to a diverse, inclusive and bright future, as we welcome new members and volunteers from all walks of life, and celebrate our stalwarts,” he added.
The Grand Marshals for the Labor Day Parade are: NY State Assemblyman Nick Perry, representative for the 58th District; George Hulse, Vice President for Community Engagement, Healthfirst); Camille Joseph-Goldman, Vice President for Government Affairs, Charter Communications; and NY State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.
Hon. Grand Marshals are: NYS Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo; NYC Mayor Bill deBlasio; Frank Seddio, Esq., chairman, Kings County Democratic Party; and other corporate sponsors.
For the fourth year, WIADCA will also have Junior Parade Grand Marshals.