West Indian Day Parade:  Popularity

September 1, 2003 Commentary Archives

When speaking of Caribbean celebrations here in the States or abroad "West Indian Day Parade" in Brooklyn comes out at the top of the list. Surely Toronto's Caribana is the grandest of them all. But on this the thirty-sixth anniversary, of the West Indian day parade, this parade's popularity enhanced by popular Calypso songs like Lord Kitchener's "Brooklyn Woman" and the Mighty Sparrow's "Labor Day in Brooklyn," serves to enhance Brooklyn's place in the Yearly celebrations.

But it runs much deeper than that. Not unlike many other immigrant groups coming to the  New York City area (a magnet for the working class immigrant) West Indians in Brooklyn are a grass-roots representation of the Caribbean people as a whole.

You need only visit Toronto's Caribana or even Boston's Carnival and the  uniqueness of Brooklyn's Carnival is ever obvious. To put it bluntly, they're a bacchanal-intoxicated wild pack -- it only comes once a year!

In a New York Daily News special on Carnival 2002 by Glenda Cadogan. Angela Fox, media consultant to Carnival puts it this way ".... Brooklyn Carnival is distinctly different because it is less regimented...."

Fox draws contrast with Trinidad and Tobago's Carnival. "In Trinidad and Tobago, the main focus of the Carnival is the competition. But in Brooklyn, the atmosphere is more like 'free-up-yuhself.' People are not as concerned about being part of a winning band as there are about just having fun."

Click here for my personal feel of the days events.

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