What We Love Most — The West Indian Day Parade In Your Words & Photos

What We Love Most — The West Indian Day Parade In Your Words & Photos

By Paul Stremple and Max Parrott

Spectators became participants, flooding the streets to dance at the West Indian Day Parade (Paul Stremple/BKLYNER)

It was a beautiful day for the parade, and we hope you got to enjoy it. Here’s what we saw  – and what you said – when we asked about what you love most about the parade. See you next year!

Dancers behind a makeshift barricade (Paul Stremple/BKLYNER)

“My favorite part is the black culture. We get to celebrate our culture because we can’t do this everyday. Today we’re able to live out life as if we were in Haiti, Trinidad or Grenada,” said Adriana Gideon, who participated in the parade as a masquerader for Ramajay Mas Camp.

Dancers near a speaker truck (Paul Stremple/BKLYNER)

“The music, the crowd and the jerk chicken are my favorite parts,” said Zhari Wilson, of East New York, who comes out of every year to sell handmade jewelry.

Vendors in booths and tents sold a variety of Caribbean foods down the length of Eastern Parkway (Paul Stremple/BKLYNER)

Mike White, 28, of Brownsville, who was selling juice and water out of cooler along Eastern Parkway said that “my favorite part is all of the women, respectfully. That and hustle and flow. It’s the one day I get to sell my merchandise without the cops messing with me.”

“My favorite thing is that you constantly find new things. I’m glad it’s peaceful and the nice weather helps,” said Sly Hill, 50, who traveled from Boston to see the parade for the second time.

Larger than life costumes were on display at the parade (Paul Stremple/BKLYNER)

“The masqueraders are my favorite thing. I’m looking forward to seeing my country the Jamaicans but also the Grenadians. They’re pretty dope” said Moet Smith, 26, of Brownsville, who comes every year to watch the parade.

A masquerader at the parade (Paul Stremple/BKLYNER)

“Food and the dancers are my favorite thing. I like the Jamaican and the Trini floats, where there is a lot of wine-ing going on” said Stacy Chapman, 27 of Flatbush, referring to the Afro-Caribbean dance the Dutty Wine, a dancehall trend involving a winding movement of the neck, gyrating hips and sometimes even a split.

Dancers dropped to the floor in splits as music shook the crowd (Paul Stremple/BKLYNER)

“I played a masquerader, so that was the main draw of the parade for me. I got to hang out with all the young ladies [laughs], but no, truly, it’s just fun to see everyone here in one place,” said CJ Montesquieu, who travelled from his home in San Bernardino to participate in the event.

Costumed troupes in bright colors represented myriad Caribbean nations and local groups (Paul Stremple/BKLYNER)

“I come to see the people. We only have this parade once a year, and there are people who you only get to see during this time. I love food too–Hatian, Dominican, Creole and Trinidadian food are my favorite.” said Francois Andes, of Canarsie.

Dancers decked out in feathers (Paul Stremple/BKLYNER)

“I love the expectation and size of the crowd. I want to have a safe carnival to minimize the negative impact on the West Indian community in Brooklyn,” said Woe Laforest, 49, of East Flatbush.

A woman pulls a massive bird float (Paul Stremple/BKLYNER)

“I love the different cultures that are on display. I’m from Haiti, but you get to see cultures from all the Caribbean places whether that’s Jamaica or Trinidad. I grew up in Brooklyn, and even though I live in East Brunswick, New Jersey, I still come down every year to watch” said Patrick St. Hillaire, 49.

A man rides amid the thumping speakers atop a trailer (Paul Stremple/BKLYNER)

“J’Ouvert is my favorite part. As you can see I’m covered in paint. I like all of that parade—Jamaican, Trinidadian and Haitian” said Tiera Brunette, of Rockland County, who had been awake since 6 a.m. to participate in J’Ouvert, the street party that celebrates the emancipation of slavery in the West Indies.

(Paul Stremple/BKLYNER)

Mkululiko Chada, 27, from Crown Heights said that “I like it as a gathering of people who span from throughout the African diaspora coming together to represent their cultural ethnicity. What I don’t like is the lack of focus on political issues. These countries are being exploited by Western companies and multinational governments.”

A drummer gets ready to join the parade route with his band (Paul Stremple/BKLYNER)

“The music was my favorite part. I walked as a masquerader Sugar Candy Mas Camp,” said Queenie Williams, 23, of Brownsville. Williams has been attending the festival for years but participated for the first time as a masquerader.

Crowds thronged both sides of Eastern Parkway to watch the parade (Paul Stremple/BKLYNER)

“I love watching the bands. The Haitian band brings it. I like them the best because their float has the largest following. I’ve been coming here for 20 years from Long Island” said Gregory Stephenson.

(Paul Stremple/BKLYNER)

“My favorite thing is food and dancing at the same time, specifically the jerk chicken” said Chatiana Appleberry, 21, who traveled from Boston to attend the parade.

(Paul Stremple/BKLYNER)

“My favorite part of the parade was the music, especially the Reggae and the Soca. The Haitian float had the best music,” said Christalia Mendez, of Staten Island.

(Paul Stremple/BKLYNER)

Masquerader Beatriz Carti, of Queens, explained that her favorite part was “being around people from other cultures and uniting. We walked with Freak’s Mas Band and our section was Orlander Ultra. Our float is associated with Trinidad, but a lot of people from different countries played mas so I represent Jamaica.”

(Paul Stremple/BKLYNER)

“My favorite part of the festival is the steel drum bands during J’Ouvert,” said Harris Childs, of Manhattan, about the street party before the parade.

(Paul Stremple/BKLYNER)

“The food and the Haitian and Jamaican float are my favorite parts” said Danielle Bryan, who come from the Bronx to sell jerk chicken as a food vendor.

(Paul Stremple/BKLYNER)

“My favorite part are the dumplings and salt fish. Salt fish is dried and like cod fish. That’s what we need everyday,” said Nelson Patillo, of Flatbush, who came with his wife Shaniqua to watch the parade.

Mayor De Blasio and his wife walked in the parade (Paul Stremple/BKLYNER)

“This is my first festival and nothing has really impressed me yet,” said Lorraine Chalwell from the Virgin Islands, who is visiting her daughter in Brooklyn.

Governor Cuomo and the Reverend Al Sharpton participated in the day’s festivities (Paul Stremple/BKLYNER)

“The culture is my favorite part. I come here all the time. I’m here for the Reggae. I grew up here and now I live in Virginia, so I miss the whole environment,” said Yasmin Pena.


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