NEW YORK – Millicent Forde, 90, who arrived last Thursday from Barbados, for the annual, seven-hour, West Indian Labor Day parade on Brooklyn’s Eastern Parkway on Monday, joined the throng of Bajans disappointed by the absence this year of a Barbadian costume band.
Sources close to the organizers told Barbados TODAY’s New York correspondent that a lack of sponsorship was to blame for the band’s first no-show in several years.
DJ Shawn Venon, whose sound system accompanied costume band Villain, ensured there was still a Barbadian presence on the Parkway.
The 2018 West Indian parade retained its colour, pomp and crowd support, but its format changed this year to accommodate several politicians campaigning for the November city, county and state elections, who canvassed the millions who converged on the Crown Heights section of Eastern Parkway on Labor Day weekend.
As with last year, police security was tight with several blocked streets and detailed scrutiny of trucks before they were allowed on the Parkway.
The Bajan posse, in ultramarine and gold caps, tee shirts, and some with flags, were out in full force on the Parkway.
The costume bands, created by Jamaicans, Guyanese, Haitians, and Trinidadians, brought a blaze of colour to the Brooklyn thoroughfare on a sweltering September day.
Formally titled the West Indian American Day Carnival, the event is a street parade celebrating the history, culture, music, food, and people of the Caribbean, and the significant contributions of West Indian immigrant community. Each year, the parade attracts more than a million people, making it one of the, if not the largest Caribbean celebrations in the United States.
The carnival floats snaked along the route amid a soundtrack rather more varied than a national carnival in the Caribbean – reggae, soca, calypso, and dancehall. As usual, art mingled with commerce as vendors peddled clothing, food, and other goods from the region.
The parade route ran along Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights, stretching from Schenectady Avenue to Grand Army Plaza, then down Flatbush Avenue.