What is the West Indian-American Day Carnival?
The centerpiece of the Carnival is the extraordinarily colorful parade that wends its way down Eastern Parkway on Labor Day. Thousands of masqueraders dance their way along miles of Parkway flanked by dense crowds of onlookers. Floats loaded with elaborately costumed revelers illustrate a particular theme chosen by each parading group, masquerade band or camp for that year. Each masquerade camp or "mas" works feverishly and with great skill to produce imaginative and spectacular costumes and to compete for cash prizes. In 1974, a designer made mammoth leaves with mosquitoes on them; trees with beehives; grasshoppers and caterpillars; squirrels eating nuts; logs bearing orchids; foam-rubber poinsettias and hibiscus. Past themes include A Tribute to Bob Marley, Caribbeans Unite, Samba Brazil, Baila Baila, African Feelings in We, In the Garden of Good and Evil, Seascape, Jewels of de City, Bees Melody and Gladiators. The pageantry and excitement, and extraordinary inventiveness, mechanical ingenuity and vibrant color of the costumes and floats are hard to convey in words.
The Carnival is an assertion of pan-Caribbean culture, bringing together people from different island nations under one umbrella, and demonstrating to the rest of the world the power and vibrancy of the peoples of the Caribbean. Politicians from within and outside of the Caribbean community are keen to make their presence felt in Brooklyn on Labor Day, a day to see and to be seen.