Every first Monday in the heart of Crown Heights Brooklyn, an annual celebration commences. You all know what it is, The West Indian Day/Labor Day Parade. This carnival attracts millions every year who come to get lost in the music and festivities. The first West Indian parade was held on September 1, 1947 in Harlem (for those that may not know). The permit was later revoked in 1964 and moved to Brooklyn in the 1970’s where it remains to this day; celebrating its 43rd anniversary.
This colorful event celebrates the cultures of all the Caribbean countries expressing heritage and cultural pride filled with dancing, aromas of native food, music, and floats. Even though the parade is held on a Monday, the partying is a weekend-long extravaganza. We can’t talk about the parade without mentioning the gorgeous costumes. These costumes are complex, elegant, and extravagant. I had no idea the preparation it took to put these fantastic costumes together, so I stopped by a costume production house where Karma Carnival Band creates their masterpieces to get a look.
There I met Claude Desir, Chief Costume Designer & Band Leader to get the deets. Claude explained the dedication it takes to craft a costume by stating, ..“Preparations begins in November, it starts with the theme and the story they want to tell. Once a theme is selected, colors are chosen; the designs are put together and then broken down into sections, which are a different part of the story”. This year the theme is Over the Rainbow and the sections are Silver Lining, Oz, and Pot of gold. The costumes are so elaborately decorated with so much attention to detail, that you are in awe of them. Claude also explained “carnival is about storytelling and fashion, calling it theater of the streets making an artistic statement.” Every outfit is colorfully doused with beautiful jewels with its own personality…pure perfection! Karma Carnival Band participates every year in the parade as well as the Miami Carnival in October. Karma are primarily St.Lucian, but they rep every island with love.
You don’t have to be a Brooklynite or West Indian to attend the parade. Everyone’s invited to take part and become spectators watching or following the parade of floats. It is definitely an experience a person should have at least once in their lifetime! If you decide to attend don’t forget to “get something and wave” (a flag) and let your feet and body do the rest of the moving to the Calypso beat. Big up to all my West Indian people…have fun and be safe, don’t forget the Red bull Tuesday Morning!!
***side note: If you want to be part of Karma Carnival Band next year find them on Facebook or email www.karmacarnivalband.com.----escape_autolink_uri:2810b6e387a7f27b0b9268401e3dc6d2---- Pot of Gold
Photo Credit: Karma Carnival Band