Tons of Brooklynites partied with Afro-Caribbean dancers, ate West Indies-inspired dishes and listened to the tunes of various cultural musicians at the Caribbean Heritage Month celebration hosted by Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso over the weekend.
The outdoor festivities kicked off on Saturday, featuring fun activities for all ages — with a live DJ, plenty of performances by Afro-Caribbean dance groups, steel pan music, a spoken word from up-and-coming Brooklyn artist Jewel Alexis-Josey, a masquerade parade, and free samples of authentic Caribbean dishes.
The festivities also included arts and crafts for the young party-goers, who used their creative skills at a tiara and fabric headpiece workshop, along with a painting station.
They also got a flavor for the best Caribbean writers around, as several authors hosted read-alouds for the kids at a reading carpet tent.
Borough President Antonio Reynoso eagerly hosted the event at Brooklyn Borough Hall Plaza, and cited his role as the first Caribbean-American to hold the post, calling it the “privilege of a lifetime.”
“I’m so happy Brooklyn could gather at the People’s House this weekend to celebrate our stories and cultures, each of us bringing a bit of our own island together to celebrate Caribbean Heritage Month in style,” he said in a statement. “The flavors of our food, the sounds of our music, the freedom of our dance, the words of our authors, and the people of the islands from which our families came will always be welcome here in Brooklyn — Saturday was a celebration and a promise of that.”
The event was hosted in partnership with Ponce Bank and the West Indian American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA), the group best known for hosting the city’s West Indian Day Parade held every September along Eastern Parkway.
The organization’s head said the event planners wanted to spotlight the various aspects of Caribbean Heritage, including the arts and culture.
“We are highlighting our contribution to Brooklyn, New York City, and the World. Everyone was welcomed to come out and enjoy and learn about the various aspects of who we are in the Arts and Culture of NY. The Dance, The Steel Pan, The Music, The Spoken Word, The Costumes. See it all, as we also ‘kick off’ the season of Carnival in New York and throughout the Caribbean,” said Michella Gibbs.
Attendees had the chance to dance to tunes from Caribbean DJ Dr. Haza, and view the all-women and Black lead percussion ensemble, Batala New York.
Dancers from Monét Movement Productions: The Collective, a dance company that focuses on celebrating Caribbean culture, took the stage, followed by a unique performance from Brooklyn-born 14-year-old artist, KJ, sang original soca songs celebrating his Grenadian American heritage.
The day wrapped up with a parade of Mas, which closed out the day-long festival of fun.
“As we celebrate Caribbean American Month there is indeed a lot to celebrate,” Carlos P. Naudon, President of Ponce Bank said. “From the festivities this weekend at Brooklyn Borough Hall with Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso, to the range of events, culture, music, food, arts and crafts, and celebrations throughout the borough, we are reminded of the immense contributions of our neighbors and friends who hail from throughout the Caribbean and who can point to their beginnings in the region.”