New York City Event Guide | West Indian American Day Carnival & Parade

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West Indian American Day Carnival & Parade


Schedule & Directions

 

Monday September 7 2009

Eastern Parkway between Utica Avenue & Grand Army Plaza |  Brooklyn

Subway 7th Av Express to Grand Army Plaza or Franklin Avenue  7th Av Express to Grand Army Plaza or Franklin Avenue or Utica Avenue  Lexington Av Express to Franklin Avenue or Utica Avenue  Lexington Av Express to Franklin Avenue | There is no service to the Eastern Parkway-Brooklyn Museum stop during this event

Getting off the subway at Grand Army Plaza puts you at the end of the parade route in one of the most crowded and controlled areas. Better choices are the Franklin or Utica Avenue stops
Do Not Drive!

Info 718-467-1797 | West Indian American Day Carnival Association

The Carnival and Parade

The West Indian American Day Carnival is the biggest parade, street fair or festival in New York City, simply the biggest cultural event of the year. Hundreds of floats and sound trucks, tens of carnival krewes in rainbow-hued, peacock-feather-enhanced costumes and hundreds of  food and goods stands make this celebration of an ethnic community's life in New York the highpoint of the festival year. And it's not just on Labor Day, there are four days of events and activities leading up to the big parade, most of them including calypso and steel bands in one form or another

Viewing Some people think the best place to view the parade is between the Brooklyn Museum and Grand Army Plaza. True, this area gives some great views, but you miss half the fun. We much prefer getting off the subway at the Franklin Avenue stop and walking East along Eastern Parkway for a few blocks, crossing over to the North side of the Parkway, then walking back West toward Grand Army Plaza

Patience The going is slow, very slow. It's estimated that 2 million people visit the carnival sometime during the day; occasionally the police crowd control barriers don't quite facilitate traffic and long lines of people are forced through small openings. When you get a bit frustrated grab a cold beverage and step back out of the way for a few moments to catch your breath

Food and Drink There's plenty of both. Stands line the North and South service roads of the Parkway -- a huge West Indian street fair. See the sights and sniff the smells: jerk chicken, fried chicken and chicken stew; jerk pork, pork stew; BBQ beef, beef stew, oxtail stew; collard greens and salads; rice and beans, red beans and rice, rice and peas, chick peas and rice, black beans and rice; curried goat and roti; conch fritters, fried flying fish, codfish cakes, salt fish, baked fish; johnnycakes, callaloo and souse; baked macaroni, macaroni and cheese, macaroni pie and macaroni salad; cakes, pies and coconut bread. There's no alcohol at New York City parades anymore, but you can still refresh yourself with a ginger beer, mauby, sorrel drink or one of many fruit juices

Just an observation: West Indian and other island food vendors appear to be among the most sanitary conscious in the City. Trays of food are always covered and that makes it awkward for those a bit unsure of trying something for the first time. Don't be shy! Ask, point, talk. This is New York City where for decades the people of the melting pot have said: Try some of our food so you can get to know us a little better

Other stands are dominated by flags and banners of all West Indian countries, tee shirts ("Trini Girls Are Best," "Grenada Numero Uno," "Belize Baby"), handicrafts and native art. There are some of the usual street fair booths, but not many

The people are all out for a great time and there are not many of the disturbances that have been associated with other parades in the past few years. Most folk seem to go out of their way to avoid problems -- everyone knows that it's hot and sticky and crowded and noisy -- and they make the best of it

Hint The sound trucks are LOUD! Take along a pair of earplugs

Find Out More

Do you really like carnivals? The folks at Carnival.com have a great resource featuring events around the country. Here's what they have to say about the Brooklyn West Indian American Day Carnival


 

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