Although the spread of COVID-19 has mandated the cancellation of the annual West Indian American Day Carnival Parade on Brooklyn’s Eastern Parkway and the pre-dawn Caribbean J’Ouvert celebration, the Brooklyn-based Tropicalfete will, on Sep. 11, celebrate carnival’s core elements – calypso/soca, steel pan and masquerade.
The cultural group will host its Carnival Festival at the Brooklyn Public Library Plaza, corner of Flatbush Avenue and Eastern Parkway.
“Different elements of the carnival from different islands will be showcased, such as the clown from St. Kitts and others,” said Tropicalfete in a statement on Tuesday.
It said that the event will be hosted by artist and educator Tanisha Burke and award-winning, multimedia journalist and host Melissa Noel.
Tropicalfete’s Carnival Festival will commence with pan player/vocalist Kern Summerville of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service Steel Orchestra performing the US National Anthem, accompanied by stilt-walking moko jumbies wrapped in American flags.
Summerville will also perform a medley of songs commemorating the nearly 3,000 people who perished as the result suicide attackers seizing US passenger jets and crashing them into lower Manhattan’s World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, Tropicalfete said.
It said a moment of silence will follow, honoring the lives lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic, then five white doves will be released into the air to symbolize unity and healing.
Ricardo Greenaway, an accomplished Brooklyn based steel pan player, who has been a teacher in Tropicalfete’s steel pan program for more than 10 years, will be performing his musical selections on a steel pan donated to Tropicalfete by Heather McCartney, director of School & Family Programs at Manhattan’s Joyce Theater Foundation, Inc. She donated the steel pan to Tropicalfete in memory of her brother Charles A. McCartney.
Tropicalfete’s Voices, an eight-piece choir under the direction of Daria Primus, will perform selections by “two of Trinidad and Tobago’s most esteemed artists” – David Rudder (“Calypso Music”) and Kes The Band (“Hello”, written by lead singer Kees Diffenthaller), Tropicalfete said.
It said Brooklyn based Calypsonian Mervyn “Dr. Whitty” Carter will perform “Superman,” which he wrote about the ongoing challenges faced by Black men, especially in the US.
Throughout the year, Tropicalfete said its Stilt Walking Unit, which presents Moko Jumbies, clad in colorful costumes and dancing to soca, has performed at a wide variety of events throughout the tri-state area.
Under the leadership of Caitlyn Pierre, Roshamba Marcelle and Charles Watts, Tropicalfete said its Stilt-Walking Unit will perform a special program dubbed “The Colors of Life.”
Tropicalfete said a soca band, comprising “some of New York’s finest Caribbean musicians,” will perform a medley of soca hits accompanied by a cast of traditional carnival characters, including the Red Devil, the Jab Jab and Dame Lorraine.
There will also be an Ole Mas segment in which costumed characters offer satirical commentaries on current events or popular personalities, Tropicalfete said.
It said its Steel Pan Ensemble, under the direction of Music Educator, Ashley “Mystiq” Murray, who has been playing pan since she was 11 years old and is a 2017 recipient of a Caribbean American Impact Award, presented by Caribbean Life newspaper, “will command the ensemble, performing several music selections.”
The ensemble will be dressed in costumes made and designed by the Tropicalfete players themselves.
In addition, Tropicalfete said students in its introduction to pan class, available to children 3 to 8 years old, led by Shania Prescod, will don sailor costumes and perform with their steel pans hung around their necks in homage to Trinidad and Tobago’s early steel pan players in the 1940s and 50s, “who wore their pans so they could play as they participated in the street parades that were central to the carnival festivities.”
Tropicalfete’s Carnival Festival will also include performances by Dance Brazil Fitness & Exotic Soca Fusion with Ana, a set by DJ SB Sounds, an audience limbo contest, a raffle for various prizes, and comments from elected officials and Tropicalfete’s community partners in this initiative.
They include The Brooklyn Public Library Adult Learning, Literacy Zone, Grow NYC, New York Police Department, The Neighborhood Opportunity Network (NeON), New York City Office of The Mayor, New York State Council on the Arts and New York City Cultural Affairs.
“Tropicalfete offers excellent cultural programming and opportunities throughout the year,” said Diana Duncan, Tropicalfete Parent and Education Advocate. “The end of summer festival is a great opportunity for the youth to showcase a culmination of all their hard work and dedication to our community. It is an event not to be missed.”
For more information, email: [email protected] or call 646-504-3383.