I arrived at the Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn where the West Indian Day Parade was taking place. I was invited by my friend Adrian and both of us arrived somewhat concerned because the rain was really washing down. Being my first West Indian Parade, I had no idea if the festival would go on.
Well I was incredibly mistaken. I quickly learned that my West Indians share a lot of similarities with a my African and my Latinos. There is no holding our people back! In fact, the reason we didn’t see a lot of the action until later was because the parade ENDED at the Grand Army Plaza where floats were forced to shut down their music and disband. We wised up and walked up the Eastern Parkway where the full force of music and dance was happening.
The rich smell and dense cloud of food permeated the streets. The further up we walked; the crazier things got. We arrived at the section where a performance competition took place.
I knew I had to get in. I tried getting in through one way, but the cops wouldn’t let me through. I tried another and still no admittance. Frustrated, I made a power move. I waited for a big group and float to pass by, hopped the fence and, BOOM, I was in the parade. That’s when all the fun for me really started.
Walking alongside the performers and getting the unadultered experience of the parade was everything. I found a great spot and hung out for a bit, documenting the competition. One after one, teams such as Boom Carnival and Sesame Carnival would perform choreographed dances in front of a panel of judges. Their costumes, elegant and elaborate, hardly distracted from the talented routines. The sense of joy and freedom was evident with smiling performers waving their flags in the air filled with pride.
When I had my fill, I walked back toward Grand Army Plaza. Even without a panel of judges, people continued to jump and dance. The rain was a nonfactor. As I made my way out, all I could see was the strength in these communities. I saw how sexually was, not shunned, but embraced. I saw a community of several different peoples, comprised of, but not limited to: Trinidad and Tobago, Haiti, Barbados, Dominica, Saint Lucia, Jamaica, Saint Vincent and Grenada, Guyana, Suriname and Belize.
We were all one.
Freedom was more important.
Life was more important.
Love, was more important.
Thank you to all of the performers, vendors and sponsors who have organized and participated in this beautiful celebration.
For my full gallery of images, click here!
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Assemblyman Nick Perry