Golden Carnival shines: Millions revel in West Indian Day Parade celebrations despite violent outbreaks

Historic carnival: Millions of people turned out to celebrate Caribbean culture at the 50th anniversary of the West Indian American Day Parade in Crown Heights on Sept. 4, with masqueraders donning traditional costumes and headpieces.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

A few miscreants did not rain on this milestone march.

Millions of spectators swarmed Kings County on Sept. 4 to celebrate the 50th-annual West Indian American Day Parade, which snaked along Eastern Parkway as costumed participants marched to the tunes of mas and steel bands. And neither a pair of non-fatal violent attacks nor an ubiquitous police presence prevented attendees from reveling in the technicolor procession, which united the Caribbean-American community, according to onlookers.

“Our culture brings people together,” said Latoya Jeffers, a native Antiguan who has played mas at the event for the past four years. “I’m having fun, enjoying my culture, meeting my people, enjoying life. This is my culture.”

The festivities, which concluded five days of carnival celebrations inspired by this year’s theme “From a Dream to A Legacy,” erupted along a three-and-a-half-mile route through Crown Heights, from Buffalo Avenue to Grand Army Plaza.

A 22-year-old man was shot in the torso near the parade’s path at 4:47 pm, and a 20-year-old man was stabbled along the route around 6 pm, police said. The injuries were not life-threatening and both victims were taken to Kings County Hospital for treatment following their attacks, police said.

But the violence — which occurred hours after the event’s 11 am start time — was restricted to isolated incidents and did not overshadow the celebration’s Caribbean pageantry and artistry, according to spectators.

“We love it,” Flatbush residents Angela Battle and Kimmi Campbell said in unison. “It’s good for the culture. It’s good for Brooklyn.”

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