With the spectacular display of some of the costume productions for this year’s Labor Day Parade, the West Indian American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA) on Thursday launched its 2018 New York Caribbean Carnival at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum.
“It gives me great pleasure of doing this for so many years,” said WIADCA Trinidadian-born chairperson Angela Sealy, after observing a moment’s silence for the passing of WIADCA former president, William “Bill” Howard.
On Wednesday, the Caribbean Community in New York paid their last respects to Howard, an African American, who died on Aug. 5 – just less than a month before the massive West Indian American Day Carnival Parade, organized by WIADCA, takes place on Brooklyn’s Eastern Parkway on Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 3. He was 75.
Howard was found dead in his Brooklyn home. His family said in a statement that he “passed away in his sleep.”
“Coroner’s report indicated he died of natural causes,” the statement added.
“As you know, our president has passed away, but we have to give our new president [Jamaican Dr. Ionie Pierce] the support,” Sealy told patrons at the launching ceremony.
In her maiden address, Pierce noted the theme of this year’s carnival, “Keeping Culture Alive – Next Generation, Same Great Institution.”
“We’re going to continue for years to come,” she said tersely. “Continue to support us, so we can continue this great institution.”
Michelle Gibbs, a member of WIADA’s marketing team, who served as Mistress of Ceremonies, said Howard has “been greatly missed, but we vow to continue his legacy.
“It’s amazing that you’ll celebrate our 51st anniversary with us,” she said.
Lawyer Sanford A. Rubenstein, one of this year’s grand marshals, told Caribbean Life, before the proceedings began, that he has been “a friend of the Caribbean community for decades.”
“It’s an honor to be grand marshal, to stand with the Caribbean Community in an event that brings pride and joy, especially in these difficult times,” said Rubenstein, who has represented “victims” in the Caribbean Community in New York over the years.
One such victim was Haitian Abner Louima, who was sodomized by cops, with a broken broomstick, rupturing his internal organs, in the 70th Police Precinct in Brooklyn.
“I condemn the Trump administration for its policy on immigration,” Rubenstein added. “It’s important to stand with the Caribbean Community to recognize the contributions that immigrants have made. And am proud to lead to lead in the parade.”
As a DJ struck up Caribbean vibes, Trinidadian Kay Mason, who has won the title “Queen of Labor Day” 10 times, swayed before the appreciative gathering.
“Every year, I look forward to Labor Day to celebrate our culture,” Mason, portraying Sesame Flyers’ “Celebration of Sounds and Happiness,” told Caribbean Life. “It’s a good thing we’re coming together and uniting.”
Among other costumed bands on hand were Giselle Fritz and Associates, Stronjeh’s and New Horizon.
The 51st Annual New York Caribbean Carnival Week kicks off on Thursday, Aug. 30, with “Reggae, Afrobeats and Soca Unda Di Stars.”
WIADCA said “this funky reggae party,” features, among others, Charly Black, Dy Dy and Linky First (Jamaica); Nailah Blackman and Aquel J (Trinidad and Tobago), Ayo Jay (Nigeria) and Papa Wastick (Ghana).
Friday, Aug. 31 celebrates the annual “Summer Jam: Stay in School Concert and Youth Fest” and “Brass Fest,” featuring Destra Garcia and Bakanal Band, Patrice Roberts, Dil-E-Nadan, Lyrikal, Farmer Nappy and Turner (Trinidad and Tobago); Motto and Freezy (St. Lucia); Marzille (Barbados); Problem Child (St. Vincent and the Grenadines); and Skinny Banton (Grenada).
WIADCA said Saturday, Sept. 1 features “jump up” with the Junior Carnival and Panorama 2018.
Dimanche Gras, the next day, highlights King, Queen and Individuals of the Bands, as well as “Calypso and Cultural Ambassadors” Lord Nelson, King David Rudder, Denise Belfon, Explainer and Ras Iley.
The carnival culminates on Monday, Sept. 3, with the grand parade extravaganza along the 3 ½ mile-route on Eastern Parkway.
WIADCA said over 3 million people are expected to converge on the major thoroughfare to witness Caribbean artistry and pageantry on display in what is described as the largest carnival parade in North America.
“Thank you for helping us to keep our culture alive,” Pierce said. “See you on the parkway.”