Tight security for J’Ouvert in Brooklyn

Curtis Noel of J’Ouvert City International.
J’Ouvert City International

A rigorous screening process will allow the New York Police Department, (NYPD) along with special security, to conduct safety checks at ten entry points along the J’Ouvert route for an incident free mas in the wee hours of Labor Day Monday in Brooklyn.

This is according to Yvette Rennie, president of J’Ouvert City International, a non-profit, that will celebrate its 27th year of traditional J’Ouvert — a jollification that depicts the ending of slavery in Trinidad & Tobago.

Rennie told Caribbean Life on Aug. 23, that J’Ouvert will kick-off from Grand Army Plaza. Bands will then mas along Eastern Parkway, make a right on to Nostrand Avenue, and a right on to Maple Avenue, where J’Ouvert will end.

She said the organization was preparing for an exciting presentation that will include 13 steel pan orchestras, seven rhythm sections, and 16 flag-wavers and individual masqueraders band.

She noted, however, that no amplified or DeeJay music will be allowed along the parade route. Only bands that are registered and insured, will participate in the traditional format of J’Ouvert.

The competition of bands will be judged in three categories. Steelband, masquerade, and calypso, said Rennie noting, that JCI holds regular meetings with all the participating steelbands, mas bands and rhythm organizations and each organization must follow the rules and regulations, stated by both JCI and the 67th South Precinct in order to partake in the J’Ouvert.

The first performance/judging point is Rogers Avenue, (Steelband Calpyso), second performance point is Bedford Avenue, (Masband Individuals Costume & Flagwaver), and the third performance point is Nostrand Avenue & Lefferts Ave. (Bomb Steelband & Rhythm).

It is estimated over a million people partake in the carnival, either as masqueraders, steelband or rhythm players or spectators.

Thirty-five steelbands (some bands come from Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, Miami, Toronto, Montreal, Trinidad & Tobago, St. Lucia and St. Vincent) each have more than 100 players, rhythm bands and mas bands have thousands of mas players. Our competitions are Steelband Bomb, Steelband Calypso, Rhythm, and Masquerade. Brooklyn comes to life with our culture.

J’Ouvert, is not just about jumping in the streets crazily, and going to a bar and coming out and doing whatever you want to do, there is a structure to the jubilation, she explained.

“J’Ouvert in Trinidad comes from when slavery ended. We are showing the evil of slavery, but we are painting ourselves, and mocking the slave masters.”

“The Jab-Jab, depicts the devil during slavery, the slave masters,” added Rinnie, who describes the mas as a spectacular display.”

“That theatre on the streets of Brooklyn comes to life, oh its beautiful,” she exclaimed, in a Facebook Live interview.

“Our culture belongs to the people, and we want everyone to enjoy it,” said Rinnie, whose organizatio, was created 32 years ago to maintain and preserve Caribbean art, culture, and heritage.

Programs are designed to educate and teach all people about the origin and history of the culture, while merging cultures from diverse backgrounds.

According to the organization, many have interpreted J’Ouvert, as an opportunity to indulge in powder, mud and water fete’s but they miss out on the beauty that is the presentations of the bands prior to their display on Eastern Parkway, said the J’Ouvert City International facebook page.

This program is designed for steelpan players (panists) to have an opportunity to display the art of playing the steelpan instrument and masqueraders displaying their awesome costumes to more than one million spectators. The carnival was highly praised by Chief Powers, the commanding officer of the 67th South Precinct and several elected officials. JCI also launched its Grand Marshall segment of the celebration.

Yvette Rennie, president of J’Ouvert City International.
Photo by Paul Martinka, File

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