An af-fair to remember: Nursing home celebrates annual Caribbean festival with party for residents

An af-fair to remember: Nursing home celebrates annual Caribbean festival with party for residents
Queen and king: The wheelchair-bound carnival royals don their crowns at the McKinney Gardens nursing home’s senior carnival on Aug. 24 in Crown Heights.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

These seniors have the carnival spirit!

About 80 old-timers paraded in colorful costumes at a Crown Heights nursing home’s celebration of the popular Caribbean festival on Aug. 24, ahead of next week’s West Indian American Day Parade. The event gave residents otherwise unable to partake in the Sept. 4 festivities a chance to commemorate their heritage, according to a rep for the care center.

“We can’t take them to Eastern Parkway so we try to bring the carnival to them on some scale, and make them feel a part of it,” said McKinney Gardens spokeswoman Angela Cooper.

The elders spent months designing the festive getups they wore to the third-annual party, which included feathered garments and bejeweled crowns, according to Cooper. And the seniors, many of whom are Caribbean-American, got a kick out of modeling their creations in front of the caretakers and relatives who joined them at the event, she said.

“They were happier for their family members to see them, because their loved ones might think that because they’re in a wheelchair they can’t do it — but they can,” said Cooper.

Nursing home staff escorted the costumed revelers along a makeshift procession route at the celebration, which also featured a dance performance to calypso music. And residents Everod Kelley and Keziah Barrett a became royalty for a day when they were crowned king and queen of the mini-carnival.

The party allowed the Brooklynites in their golden years to relive their days of attending the annual West Indian American Day Parade, which Cooper hopes they can witness again in future years, she said.

But until then, reflecting on their own celebration allows the seniors to embrace the festival’s spirit, according to another nursing home employee.

“They’re still thinking about it because they really enjoyed it,” said Gayle Nurse, a patient technician. “It was their own little carnival.”

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimon@cnglocal.com.

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