NEW YORK, New York – Over two million spectators and thousands of masquerades would normally be expected to converge on Brooklyn’s Eastern Parkway on Monday, Labour Day.
But clearly, these are not normal times, and the West Indian American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA), organizer of the massive annual carnival parade, is again not taking any chances.
The Brooklyn-based group has cancelled the spectacular event for the second successive year, because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
However, it is still allowing carnival aficionados to enjoy Caribbean culture by hosting a series of carnival events, which started on Thursday last week and culminates on Monday at the Brooklyn Museum.
“Welcome back! We thank all of our supporters and community members for their continued support,” Trinidadian Rhea Smith, a WIADCA director told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) Monday,” adding “join us, celebrate with us and be part of our rebirth for 2021.”
Held under the theme, “Rebirth: Future Now,” Smith said the carnival was started with the sold-out “Vibes w/Voicey Concert Tour,” and that a number of cultural partners have been working with the association “to bring the pageantry of carnival differently to the masses.”
They include: Pride of the Caribbean, Sesame Flyers International, B Paradise Mas’, Poshy Productions/Kaisokah Mas and Kaisokah Moko Jumbies.
“While our beloved New York Carnival Parade is postponed until 2022, we have several events scheduled that feature musical ambassadors from around the Caribbean -Guyana, Trinidad, Jamaica- and more,” said WIADCA in a statement.
On Monday, WIADCA said “the ultimate New York Carnival day experience, ‘Jus like Mas’, takes place from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 pm (local time).
Instead of grand marshals, WIADCA has named four march marshals for Labour Day.
They are New York City First Lady Chirlane McCray, who traces her roots to Barbados and St. Lucia; Rabbi Eli Cohen, executive director of the Brooklyn-based Jewish Community Council; Dr. Henri Paul, of the Brooklyn-based Haitian Medical and Disaster Relief Organization; and posthumously Montserratian-born Dr. George A. Irish, former head of the Caribbean Research Center, dean of the School of Liberal Arts and professor of Caribbean and Latin American Studies at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College.
WIADCA has put in place strong COVID rules and protocols for the carnival. It said a negative COVID test within the week prior to the event is required.
“You will be asked to provide a negative COVID test at the gate. Entry will not be permitted to any event without a negative COVID test, regardless of your vaccination status, “WIADCA said, adding “if you do not have a negative COVID test, no worries. You can take a rapid test onsite,.
“You will need to wait at least 15 minutes for your results.”
WIADCA said masks are required at all official New York Carnival events.