Friday, September 3, 2010

Labor Day Fun, Part VI: Party down Eastern Parkway

By Damian Harris-Hernandez

Scantily clad revelers and stilt-dancing moco jumbies return to the streets of Brooklyn this weekend for the annual West Indian Carnival Festival.

The Labor Day institution, which will take over Eastern Parkway this Sept. 6, draws over three million spectators and merrymakers to partake in Caribbean music, dancing and tasty fare.

“People from all over the world come to celebrate the culture of the Caribbean region,” said Jean Alexander, of the West Indian American Day Carnival Association, which organizes the parade. “Families reunite on Eastern Parkway. It’s a real nice time.”

Organizers of the jovial procession, the longest in the city, remain unfazed by the city’s call to cut the parade’s length and duration in a cost-saving move. As a result, this year’s starting point is Schenectady Avenue, cutting the parade length by one block, but the bacchanal promises to be bigger and better than ever this year.

“I don’t see it as a setback,” said Alexander of the one-block trim. “We have 40 new groups this year, many of whom are even coming from the Islands.”

Indeed, Idakeda, a Trinidadian cultural dance troupe from Port of Spain, will perform “Kambule,” a play celebrating Canbouley, a Trinidadian carnival that gave rise to Calypso and later soca music.

For the diehard revelers who can’t wait for the real parade to start, J’ouvert begins at 2 am near Grand Army Plaza on Labor Day. In this predawn procession, masqueraders wear wild costumes and douse each other in mud and paint while steel bands pump out live soca music.

Bring your flag and costume, but leave your inhibitions at home.

West Indian American Day Carnival [along Eastern Parkway starting at Schenectady Avenue in Crown Heights to Grand Army Plaza in Prospect Heights, (718) 467-1797], Sept. 6 from 11 am-6 pm, For info, visit


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