News & Culture in Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill and Points Nearby
January 20, 2021
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News + Views

West Indian Carnival Guide

By Lisa M. Collins
Feathers, color and music take over Eastern Parkway.
Photo by Joshua Kristal.

Catch the color and excitement as millions of New Yorkers line Eastern Parkway for the 43rd annual Labor Day West Indian American Carnival Parade, the city’s biggest street festival. Beginning at 11 a.m., teams of dancers, performers and revelers will shake to reggae and calypso music and show off the vibrant costumes (and body paint) and synchronized dances they’ve worked on for months.

The big event is Monday, Sept. 5, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., but festivities run all weekend, including music concerts and a kids’ carnival on Saturday. Last year it was estimated that two million people attended the parade on Labor Day, when 50 or so “bands” (groups of about 100 dancers) load tractor trailers with giant speakers and make their way down the street. Women perform “winding,” a dance involving a wild shaking of the derriere without moving the upper body.

Jerk Chicken, fried chicken, pork stew, BBQ beef, curried goat, fried flying fish, collard greens, red beans and rice and a host of Caribbean foods will be for sale at stands up and down Eastern Parkway. Alcohol isn’t allowed for sale at city parades.

The best viewing is between Grand Army Plaza and the Brooklyn Museum. Though Jim’s Deli suggests an alternate viewing path: exit the subway at the Franklin Avenue stop and walk along Easter Parkway for a few blocks. Cross to the north side of the Parkway and walk back west toward Grand Army Plaza to get a full taste of the events flavors.

The crowd moves slowly, so it’s an event to take in casually. Don’t be in a rush, cause there won’t be any rushing.

As in the past, count on crowds waving flags from Trinidad, Barbados, Grenada and other Caribbean nations.

The Kiddie Carnival is on Saturday, and a Dimanche Gras (Fat Sunday) celebration will be held.

At 3 a.m. Monday, the J’Ouvert parade, a celebration of steel pan drums, will kick off the main parade, which begins at 11 a.m.

Official route: Utica Ave. to Grand Army Plaza along Eastern Parkway.

Subway: Head to Grand Army Plaza, Utica Avenue or Franklin Avenue.


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